In this episode of "Let's Talk About Water," California is burning. And Oregon. And Washington State. And not only are mega wildfires in the U.S. threatening – and sometimes taking -- lives and property there, they're pumping smoke and fallout high into the atmosphere that has spread to Canada and even entered European air space.
Host Jay Famiglietti switches gears this week to talk about the absence of water in his onetime stomping grounds of California. Jay speaks to an old friend who resides in his fire-threatened former hometown of Sierra Madre, a leading climatologist named Bill Patzer; University of California wildfire expert Crystal Kolden and Hayley Smith, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, who’s living on the edge of the biggest story of her life -- the infamous Bobcat Fire -- as it blazes in the mountains overlooking L.A.
Dr. William Patzert is a not-so-retired oceanographer and climatologist with nearly 35 years experience. After earning a master's and doctorate in oceanography from the University of Hawaii, he joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he helped pitch a new program focusing on doing oceanography studies from space - the Topex/Poseidon mission. The mission now has over 25 years of data. Bill is now focused on science communication, talking about the significance of understanding El Nino patterns and issues such as climate change, overpopulation, and water policy.
Dr. Crystal Kolden is an Assistant Professor in the Management of Complex Systems department, School of Engineering, at the University of California, Merced. She is a former wildland firefighter who now studies wildfire in the era of anthropogenic climate change.
Hayley Smith is a metro reporter covering breaking news for the Los Angeles Times. Her work has been featured on HuffPost, Vogue, and many other outlets. She holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Record low precipitation rates in California