Professor Jay Famiglietti is a hydrologist, a professor of Earth System Science and of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, and he is the Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. He was appointed to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board by California Governor Jerry Brown.
Professor Famiglietti’s research group investigates how the water cycle and freshwater resources are being impacted by climate change. They develop advanced computer models and use satellite remote sensing to track water availability around the globe. Famiglietti’s work has been incorporated into several of the world’s leading global climate models, the complex numerical simulators used to predict and understand global change, and that provide the basis for assessment of future climate in the IPCC reports. Most recently, he and his students have pioneered methods using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission to identify groundwater depletion in the world’s major aquifers. Their work has highlighted unsustainable rates of groundwater use around globe - from the Central Valley and the High Plains aquifers in the United States, to the Middle East, India, China and Australia.
Professor Famiglietti was the founding director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM), a University of California system-wide center formed to develop state-of-the-art predictive models to address high-priority water issues in California and the Western United States. In its brief history (2009-2014) the UCCHM published a series of high profile publications and reports, led important efforts in science communication and water diplomacy, and built the capacity to advise state and federal government officials on key issues related to climate change and sustainable water resources management. In 2014 Prof. Famiglietti moved the core of the UCCHM to NASA JPL, where he now heads the JPL Water Initiative, a strategic effort to bring the resources of NASA to bear on regional-to-global water and sustainability issues. He is currently on a leave of absence from UCI.
Before joining the faculty at UCI in 2001, Famiglietti was an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he helped launch the program in climate and the UT Environmental Science Institute. He has been a Visiting Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Famiglietti is the past Chair of the Board of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), a past Editor-in-Chief of Geophysical Research Letters, and he is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the Geological Society of America. He and his research group have published over 120 papers in the peer reviewed literature.
Professor Famiglietti is a regular advisor to the U. S. Congress and the California Governor’s office on water availability and water security issues. He has testified before Congress, and has participated in numerous White House, State Department, Congressional, Pentagon and California State Legislature briefings. In addition, he has directly briefed international leaders including former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U. S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and former U. S. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans. His work is often featured in the international news media, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and The Economist, and in 60 Minutes, Real Time with Bill Maher and CNN/Fareed Zakaria GPS. He has been a frequent guest on several news shows including the CBS Evening News, The Rachel Maddow Show, and the PBS News Hour, as well as National Public Radio and BBC Radio. Famiglietti is also a story consultant on the forthcoming documentary miniseries, Parched, an Alex Gibney/Jigsaw Production for National Geographic which will examine the world's dwindling water supply.
Professor Famiglietti actively communicates water and climate change issues - in academics, in business, in government and to the general public. He appeared as a featured expert in the water documentary Last Call at the Oasis, and is a regular contributor to National Geographic Water Currents and the Huffington Post. His Opinion and Commentary pieces have been published in the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and in the academic journals Science and Nature Climate Change.
Professor Famiglietti is an avid speaker. In 2012 he served as the Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer of the Geological Society of America and delivered over 50 lectures on global water cycle change and freshwater availability. In 2014 served as the David Keith Todd Lecturer of the Groundwater Resources Association for Southern California.
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Photo Steve Anderson