Drought, Flood and Wildfire Experts List

An orchard in a dry field with a background of bare hills
The drought is influencing economy, commodity and food markets, food availability and consumer food prices, among other issues.

Experts from the University of California, Davis, are available to media to discuss the drought and water-supply issues affecting California.


Water supplies, delivery systems and conservation

Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, can discuss the short-term and prolonged impacts of drought on California’s water supply. He has particular expertise in water management and policy, urban water conservation, and the relationship between Northern California’s water supply and water deliveries statewide. He wrote CALVIN (California Value Integrated Network), a computer model that analyzes statewide water supplies and delivery, and projects impacts of climate, storage and other changes. He co-authored reports in 2014 and 2015 on the drought’s economic impact to California agriculture. Contact: Jay Lund, Civil and Environmental Engineering, (530) 752-5671, jrlund@ucdavis.edu.

Planning and managing water resources

Samuel Sandoval, an assistant professor and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, is an expert in water resources planning and management. He works with scientists, engineers, environmentalists, system operators and decision-makers to integrate ideas into policies and quantify the benefits and drawbacks. He has helped develop educational materials (California Water Virtual Tour and the Water and Drought Online Seminar Series) to cope with negative effects due to drought and water scarcity. Speaks Spanish and English. Contact: Samuel Sandoval, samsandoval@ucdavis.edu.

Josué Medellín-Azuara is a senior researcher at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. His areas of expertise include hydro-economic modeling, regionwide economic impact analysis, water recycling and remote sensing for estimating agricultural consumptive use. He has been a co-developer and an applied researcher of the CALVIN and SWAP models for water management in agricultural and urban uses in California. He is a co-author of the 2014 California Drought Impact Report and similar reports in 2015. He serves as the convener of the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum. Bilingual in Spanish and English. Contact: Josué Medellín-Azuara, jmedellin@ucdavis.edu

Flood Risk and Management

Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor, is a nationally recognized expert in flooding, flood risk and management. Pinter studies the geology of the earth's surface, applied to a range of problems. His research is focused on rivers, floodplains, flood hydrology and watersheds, which he’s applied to help provide a scientific basis for sound natural-hazards public policy at national and local levels. He holds the Roy J. Shlemon Chair in Applied Geosciences. Contact: Nicholas Pinter, Department of Earth and Physical Sciences, (530) 754-1041, npinter@ucdavis.edu.


Wildfire, climate and plant communities

Mark Schwartz, a plant ecology professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, can discuss the impact of climate change on wildfires, as well as where and when plant communities are predicted to exhibit stress as a consequence of unusual climatic conditions, including wildfire. His work to help better predict fire behavior and forest vulnerabilities informs decisions about fire management, including prescribed fire, fuels reduction, and management responses to wildfire events. Contact: Mark Schwartz, (530) 752-0671, mwschwartz@ucdavis.edu.


Economic impact on agriculture and consumers

Daniel Sumner is the Frank H. Buck Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. He can discuss the impact of drought on the economy, commodity and food markets, food availability, and consumer food prices. He can explain how farmers are likely to adjust the crops they grow, as well as how food prices will be affected in California and around the nation. Contact: Daniel Sumner, Agricultural and Resource Economics, dasumner@ucdavis.edu.

Drought impacts for ranchers

Ken Tate is a professor and UC Cooperative Extension rangeland watershed specialist, as well as the Russell L. Rustici Endowed Chair in Rangeland Watershed Sciences. He works closely with ranchers to help them cope with the drought, which has severely impacted California’s 41 million acres of rangeland. This rangeland is vitally important as a source of livestock forage, wildlife habitat, plant diversity and clean water. Read about this work. Contact: Ken Tate, Rangeland Watershed Laboratory, (530) 754-8988, kwtate@ucdavis.edu.

Leslie Roche is the Rangeland Management Specialist in UC Cooperative Extension in the Department of Plant Sciences. She works with ranchers and rangeland managers to integrate management expertise and applied research to develop drought adaptation and recovery strategies. California ranching is largely dependent on rain-fed systems—as opposed to groundwater or stored water—and therefore is among the first in agriculture impacted by drought. Severe drought conditions can trigger undesirable ecological shifts, which impact forage and livestock production and directly threaten livelihoods of ranching families and communities, as well as the ecosystem services these expansive lands provide. Contact: Leslie Roche, (530) 754-8766, lmroche@ucdavis.edu.


Groundwater quality and recharge

Graham Fogg, professor of hydrogeology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, is an expert on groundwater quality and sustainability, groundwater modeling, the response of water systems to climate change, and the transport of groundwater contaminants. Published research he co-authored in 2015 examined how moving levees and flood control can increase groundwater supply. Contact: Graham Fogg, (530) 752-6810, gefogg@ucdavis.edu.

Groundwater contamination and resources

Thomas Harter is an expert on groundwater occurrence, groundwater flow, recharge dynamics, the role of rivers, precipitation and irrigation in maintaining our aquifers, and on how human activities and agriculture affect groundwater quality. He holds the Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy, and is a professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and a UC Cooperative Extension groundwater hydrologist. He works with the agricultural industry and government agencies to manage groundwater resources. Learn more. Contact: Thomas Harter, Land, Air and Water Resources, (530) 400-1784, thharter@ucdavis.edu.

Surface water resources, snowpack and groundwater recharge

Helen Dahlke, assistant professor in integrated hydrologic science at the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, can discuss the impact of climate change on the snowpack, surface water quantity and quality, and long-term trends in water resources availability and sustainability. Her work includes research on the feasibility of using the agricultural landscape for large-scale winter groundwater recharge. Contact: Helen Dahlke, (530) 302-5358, hdahlke@ucdavis.edu.


Watershed management and fish

Peter Moyle is a professor of fish biology in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences. He is an authority on freshwater and estuarine fishes of California, including the delta smelt. He has monitored native fish populations through droughts for more than four decades and has documented the declining status of native fishes, as well as the invasions of alien species. In a 2013 study, he and fellow scientists determined that climate change and human-caused degradation to aquatic habitats threaten extinction of over 80 percent of California’s native fish. In 2014, he led a crew that sampled drought-stricken streams, looking for native fishes, throughout Northern California. Contact: Peter Moyle, Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, (530) 752-6355, pbmoyle@ucdavis.edu.

Impacts to Fish and Rivers

Gregory Pasternack, a hydrology professor, can discuss how changes to rivers -- from floods and droughts to human impacts -- impact fish and natural river functioning. Contact: Gregory Pasternack, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, 530-554-4490 or 530-752-1552, gpast@ucdavis.edu. 


Richard Frank, professor of environmental practice at the School of Law, can comment on legal and policy issues arising out of California's drought. His areas of expertise include California water rights law, drought-related issues currently confronting California and the American West, legislation, and water governance issues in California. He teaches water law at King Hall, has written on these issues and testified before Congressional and California state legislative committees on these topics. Contact: Richard Frank at (530) 752-7422, rmfrank@ucdavis.edu.


Drought-tolerant landscapes and sustainable gardening practices

Ellen Zagory, director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, is an expert on plant propagation and sustainable planting design. She helped develop the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars — 100 plants with properties tested by horticultural staff possessing many qualities that make them outstanding choices for any landscape, including their heat and drought tolerance. Zagory’s current projects include helping to convert a variety of campus settings from little-used, high-maintenance, high-water landscapes to heat-tolerant, low-water, low-maintenance landscapes. She travels the state to instruct UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners and regional garden clubs about steps they can take toward more sustainable gardening practices. Contact: Ellen Zagory, UC Davis Arboretum, arboretum@ucdavis.edu

Converting lawns to natural meadows

Andrew Fulks, assistant director of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, manages the campus’s natural landscape areas for teaching, research and public use. He is an expert on converting landscapes from high maintenance and high water-use to regionally appropriate landscapes with multiple aesthetic and wildlife benefits. His knowledge of the measures the campus has used to decrease its outdoor water use and improve stormwater quality can be applied at both institutional and homeowner scales. His current projects include managing the 700-acre streamside and grassland ecosystem at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve and the re-establishment of a native California grassland at UC Davis Russell Ranch. He can speak to the steps involved in converting lawns to attractive, natural, drought-tolerant meadows using wildflowers and native grasses. Contact: Andrew Fulks, UC Davis Arboretum, (530) 219-7618, amfulks@ucdavis.edu.

Landscaping with drought-tolerant California natives

Taylor Lewis, horticulturist and nursery manager for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Teaching Nursery, has studied the best methods for planting and growing California natives, and has worked to make them publicly available. With his calendar of when California natives bloom in hand, he teaches seminars statewide to dispel the myth that California native landscapes are not aesthetically pleasing. Lifetime Master Gardener and local radio talk show host of the “KFBK Garden Show” Farmer Fred Hoffman refers to Lewis as “…one of the biggest influences on the use of California natives in the state.” Lewis is an expert on how homeowners can make their landscapes drought-tolerant by incorporating California natives. He is currently working on propagating California native plants for use throughout campus and for sale to the public. Contact: Taylor Lewis, tclewis@ucdavis.edu.


Water rates and water-energy efficiency

Frank Loge is director of the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Loge can discuss the link between water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions; energy used in water production, treatment, use and disposal; the development of novel efficiency technologies; the role of information technology in water-energy efficiency; and water rates, inclusive of the types of rates, compliance with state law, and socioeconomic equity. Contact: Frank Loge, Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, (530) 754-2297, fjloge@ucdavis.edu.

Water-energy nexus

Edward “Ned” Spang, assistant professor of Food Science and Technology, is an expert on the water-energy nexus, the inextricable link between water and energy. He can discuss energy used to produce fresh water and water consumed in energy production at a local, national or global scale. He can also discuss water and energy policy. Contact: Edward Spang, Food Science and Technology, (530) 754-5447, esspang@ucdavis.edu.

Media Resources

Kat Kerlin, Research news (emphasis on environmental sciences), 530-750-9195, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu

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