Climate Conversations

Climate Conversations

Participants in Climate Education Professional Development have repeatedly asked what comes next after the introductory courses. Here is our answer: Climate Webinars for Educators. These 1.5 hour webinars are offered in thematic two-packs (Water in the West, Extreme Weather). The webinars always feature expert scientists during a panel discussion that is guided by moderator questions. The webinars are broadcast as live streaming and are recorded for asynchronous viewing.

Challenges for the Colorado River Basin

This webinar explores the physical geography, human impact, history, and management of the Colorado River Basin. The effects of climate change are also discussed, specifically regarding drought, agriculture water demand and what can be done to address future water needs.

Featured Speakers:

Doug Kenney, Ph.D., Director of the Western Water Policy Program at University of Colorado Law School

Dr. Doug Kenney is a Senior Research Associate at Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment. He also serves as Director of the GWC Western Water Policy Program. He researches and writes extensively on several water-related issues, including law and policy reform, river basin and watershed-level planning, the design of institutional arrangements, water resource economics, and alternative strategies for solving complex resource issues. Dr. Kenney has served as a consultant to several Interior Department agencies, the EPA, the US Forest Service, national governments and NGOs in Asia and Africa.

Jeff Lukas, Senior Research Associate, Western Water Assessment - CIRES, University of Colorado

Jeff Lukas is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Colorado - Boulder Western Water Policy Program. Jeff's research centers on the use of multi-century tree-ring records to assess past climatic and hydrologic variability in Colorado and the interior West. He has worked with resource managers at the local, state, and federal levels to develop tree-ring reconstructions of streamflow and drought and use them in modeling and planning. He helps resource managers to more effectively incorporate climate information at all time scales-paleoclimate, instrumental records, forecasts, and climate projections-into their planning and operations.

Challenges of Drought, Wildfire & Flood in Colorado

hree guest scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey discuss drought, wildfire, and flooding in Colorado. Using Colorado’s Boulder Creek Watershed as an example, the panel reviews and evaluates the interactions between these natural disasters, especially in the context of a changing climate. Learn more about wildfire impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystems, coupling of ecological and engineered infrastructure. Also addressed are surface water/groundwater interaction and post-wildfire hydrology.

Featured Speakers:

Jeff Writer, Ph.D. 
Jeff Writer is a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and research associate with Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at CU-Boulder. He specializes in wildfire impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystems, coupling of ecological and engineered infrastructure, fate and transport of emerging contaminants.

Sheila Murphy 
Sheila Murphy is a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. She is the site coordinator for the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) program in Puerto Rico and is a Co-Investigator of the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory. She focuses on the characterization of the hydrology and water chemistry of small watersheds and how they are affected by both natural factors and disturbance. 


Brian Ebel, Ph.D. 
Brian Ebel is a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and research assistant professor at Colorado School of Mines. He specializes in unsaturated flow and soil physics, surface water/groundwater interaction, hillslope hydrology and runoff generation, near-surface hydrologic response simulation, landslide and debris flow initiation, preferential flow, quantitative model performance evaluation, and post-wildfire hydrology.

Attribution of Extreme Weather Events

According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), in 2013, there were 7 weather and climate disaster events, killing 109 people and resulting in losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.

In this webinar, recorded March 5, 2014, two guest experts  from the National Oceanic  Atmospheric Association discuss how scientists study extreme weather. They also explore the relationship between extreme weather events and climate change and how scientists determine whether extreme weather is an isolated incident or a trend.

Featured Speakers:

Dr. Martin Hoerling, Ph.D.
NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory 
Dr. Martin Hoerling is a research meteorologist, specializing in climate dynamics, in NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory located in Boulder, Colorado. He is the Convening Lead Author for the US Climate Change Science Plan Synthesis and Assessment Report released in 2009. Dr. Hoerling is Chairman of the US Climate Variability research program. He served as Editor for the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, and has published over 50 scientific papers dealing with climate variability and change.


Dr. Stephanie Herring, Ph.D.
NOAA Climatic Monitoring Division 
As NOAA's Liaison to the National Climate Assessment, Dr. Stephanie Herring works in NOAA's Climatic Monitoring Division (see in Resources below.) Dr. Herring and Dr. Hoerling collaborated on the Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 From a Climate Perspectivereport, which resulted in their inclusion on Foreign Policy magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers list.

Extreme Weather: Climate Change Impact, Adaptation and Mitigation

In this panel discussion, Dr. Patricia Romero-Lankao, a social scientist and Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a physical scientist discuss the intersection between science, politics and economics as they pertain to the impacts of climate change. They also explore adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of a changing climate with examples from the US and abroad. Both are contributors to the International Panel on Climate Change and speak to the findings from the recently released IPCC working group reports.

Featured Speakers:

Dr. Patricia Romero-Lankao, Ph.D.
Research Applications Laboratory 
As an interdisciplinary social scientist in National Center for Atmospheric Research's Research Applications Laboratory, Dr. Romero-Lankao focuses on the intersections between urban development and the environment, including the carbon cycle, the climate system and the water cycle. She was a lead co-author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Working Group II contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Ph.D.
Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis 
Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dr. Trenberth was a lead author of the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Scientific Assessment of Climate Change reports from the IPCC. Recently his primary research has focused on the global energy and water cycles and how they are changing. His work mainly involves empirical studies and quantitative diagnostic calculations.

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