Jonathan T. Overpeck
Dr. Jonathan Overpeck (“Peck”) is the Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan. He has served as dean of SEAS since 2017 and is the William B. Stapp Collegiate Professor of Environmental Education, as well as a Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, and a Professor of Climate and Space Science Engineering.
An interdisciplinary climate scientist, Overpeck is an expert on climate change, climate-vegetation interactions, earth history, environmental science and sustainability. He has authored over 220 publications and has been referenced over 50,000 times. Overpeck advocates both scholarly and real-world impact, particularly the need for public higher education to emphasize both. He has also worked hard to strengthen the focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the study and practice of environmental work and sustainability. His time has been invested heavily in university, city and state efforts to help create a 21st-century economy that is robust, free of climate change, sustainable and just, and continues to push hard for innovative ways that universities and their partners can accelerate an end to the climate and other environmental crises that plague our planet.
Overpeck has worked with many students and collaborators whose research has spanned continents and a wide range of environmental topics and collaborations. His most significant contributions have been in the areas of climate-biosphere interactions, climate variability and abrupt climate change, monsoon dynamics, drought and hydroclimate, sea level rise, interdisciplinary climate assessment, climate and law, as well as climate engagement and adaptation. Of particular note are his contributions to a study that defined the now widely used term “megadrought” for the first time. He and his colleagues also highlighted the increasing role of temperature in driving more severe drought and the expanding “aridification” of North America which contributed to a growing realization that many regions of the globe are also experiencing ongoing aridification as the planet warms in response to human emissions of greenhouse gases.
Overpeck’s climate-biosphere work spans his entire career. He was a pioneer in the study of abrupt earth system change, particularly in the study of abrupt changes or “tipping points” that have occurred, or could occur, in warm interglacial and future climates. He was a member of the first National Academy of Sciences study of abrupt change, and also co-led the first comprehensive investigation of the annually-laminated sediments of Cariaco Basin north of Venezuela, an effort that provided key constraints on abrupt glacial and deglacial change in the North Atlantic, the calendar-year calibration of radiocarbon ages, and climate variability over a wide range of time scales.
Overpeck was the founding director of the NOAA Paleoclimate Program and of the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology. He has served on many national and international scientific and advisory committees and boards in addition to briefing and testifying before Congress multiple times. Over the past 20 years, Overpeck’s work has increasingly focused on use-inspired research and assessments in collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders in society. On the international level, he has been heavily involved in multiple assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has also participated in multiple national and regional-scale climate assessments and led/co-led two major long-term research and engagement projects aimed at bridging the natural sciences with the social sciences and providing resource managers and other stakeholders with the information needed for better science-based decision-making, including in the area of climate change adaptation. He has been part of multiple efforts aimed at improving understanding of climate science in society and in legal decision-making.
Overpeck, J.T. and Bonar, S.A. (2020). Southwestern fish and aquatic systems: the climate challenge. In: Standing between Life and Extinction: Ethics and Ecology of Conserving Aquatic Species in the American Southwest (D.L. Propst, J. E. Williams, K.R. Bestgen, and C.W. Hoagstrom, eds.) University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL pp. 137-152.
Loope, G., D. Thompson, J. Cole and J.Overpeck, (2020). Is there a low-frequency bias in multiproxy reconstructions of tropical pacific SST variability? Quaternary Science Reviews 246, 106530
Loope, G. D. Thompson, and J. Overpeck, J. (2020). The spectrum of Asian Monsoon variability: A proxy system model approach to the hydroclimate scaling mismatch. Quaternary Science Reviews 240, 106362.
Overpeck, J.T. and B. Udall(2020). Climate change and the aridification of North America.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (22), 11856-11858.169.
Pendergrass, A.G., G.A. Meehl, R. Pulwarty, M. Hobbins, M. Hoell, A. AghaKouchak, C.J.W. Bonfils, A.J.E. Gallant, M. Hoerling, D. Hoffmann, L. Kaatz, F. Lehner, D. Llewellyn, P. Mote, R.B. Neale, J.T. Overpeck, A. Sheffield, K. Stahl, M. Svoboda, M.C. Wheeler, A.W. Wood, C.A. Woodhouse, C.A. (2020). Flash droughts present a new challenge for subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction. Nature Climate Change 10 (3), 191-199.
Routson, C.C., S.H.Arcusa, N.P. McKay and J.T. Overpeck. (2019). A 4,500‐Year‐Long Record of Southern Rocky Mountain Dust Deposition. Geophys. Res. Lett. 46: 8281-8288. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL083255
Barr, C., J. Tibby, M.J. Leng, J. J. Tyler, A.C.G. Henderson, J.T. Overpeck, G.L. Simpson, J.E. Cole, S.J. Phipps, J.C. Marshall, G.B. McGregor, Q. Hua, and F.H. McRobie (2019). Holocene El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability reflected in subtropical Australian precipitation. Scientific Reports 9:1627-1636 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-38626-3
Cook, B.R. and J.T.Overpeck (2018). Relationship-building between climate scientists and publics as an alternative to information transfer. WIREs Climate Change 2018;e570, https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.570
Garner, A.J., J.L. Weiss, A. Parris, R.E. Kopp, R.M. Horton, J.T. Overpeck, and B.P. Horton (2018) Evolution of 21st Century Sea-level Rise Projections. Earth’s Future 6: 1603–1615. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EF000991
Overpeck, J.T. and S.A. Bonar (2018). Southwestern fish and aquatic systems: the climate challenge. In: Standing between life and extinction: ethics and ecology of conserving aquatic species in the American Southwest (D.L. Propst, J. E. Williams, K.R. Bestgen, and C.W. Hoagstrom, eds.) University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL (Invited, in press).
Nolan, C., J.T. Overpeck, and 33 others (2018). Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change. Science (in press).
Yin, J, J.T. Overpeck, C. Peyser and R. Stouffer. (2018). Big Jump of Record Warm Global Mean Surface Temperature in 2014-2016 Related to Unusually Large Oceanic Heat Releases. Geophys. Res. Lett 10.1002/2017GL076500.
Stevenson, S., J.T. Overpeck, J. Fasullo, S. Coats, L. Parsons, T. Ault, B. Otto-Bliesner, G. Loope and J. Cole (2018). Climate Variability, Volcanic Forcing, and Last Millennium Hydroclimate Extremes. Journal of Climate 31: 4309-4327.
Parsons, L.A. S. Coats and J. T. Overpeck (2018. The continuum of drought in Southwestern North America. Journal of Climate (in press).
Parsons, L.A. S. LeRoy, J. T. Overpeck, M. Bush, G. M. Cárdenes-Sandí, and Scott Saleska (2018). The Threat of Multi-Year Drought in Amazonia. Water Resources Research (in press).
Garfin G., D. A. Falk, C. D. O’Connor, K. Jacobs, R. D. Sagarin, A. C. Haverland, A. Haworth, A. Baglee, J. Weiss, J. Overpeck, A. A. Zuñiga-Terán. (2018). A new mission: climate adaptation challenges and opportunities in the Department of Defense. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment (in press).
Parsons, L.A., G R. Loope, J. T. Overpeck, T. R. Ault, R, Stouffer and J. E. Cole (2017). Temperature and precipitation variance in CMIP5 simulations and paleoclimate records of the last millennium. Journal of Climate 30: 8885-8912.
Routson, C.C, T. M. Shanahan, J. T. Overpeck, and C. A. Woodhouse. (2017). The megadrought environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (in revision).
Dee, S.G., L.A. Parsons, G. Loope, T.R. Ault, J. Emile-Geay, and J.T. Overpeck. (2017). Improved spectral comparisons of paleoclimate models and observations via proxy system modeling: implications for multi-decadal variability. Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 476: 34-46.
Conroy, J.L, A.F. Collins, J.T. Overpeck, M.B. Bush, J.E. Cole, and D.J. Anderson (2015). A 400-year isotopic record of seabird response to eastern tropical Pacific productivity. Geo Geography and Environment 2, 137–147 doi: 10.1002/geo2.11
LaKind, J., J. Overpeck and 13 others. (2016). Exposure science in an age of rapidly changing climate: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology advance online publication 3 August 2016; doi: 10.1038/jes.2016.35
Routson, C.C., C.A. Woodhouse, J.T. Overpeck, J.L. Betancourt, N.P. McKay. (2016). Teleconnected Ocean Forcing of Western North American Droughts and Pluvials During the Last Millennium. Quaternary Science Reviews 146: 238-250.
Conroy, J.L., A.M. Hudson, J.T. Overpeck, K-b Liu, L. Wang and J.E. Cole. (2017). The primacy of multidecadal to centennial variability over late-Holocene forced change of the Asian Monsoon on the southern Tibetan Plateau. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 458: 337-348.
Routson CC, Overpeck JT, Woodhouse CA, Kenney WF (2016) Three Millennia of Southwestern North American Dustiness and Future Implications. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0149573. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149573.
Udall, B. and J. Overpeck (2017). The 21st Century Colorado River hot drought and implications for the future. Water Resources Research 10.1002/2016WR019638
Bush, M.B., Y.A. Correa-Metrio, C.H. McMichael, S. Sully, C.R. Shadik, T. Guilderson, M. Steinitz-Kannan, and J.T. Overpeck (2016). A 6900-year history of landscape modification by humans in lowland Amazonia. Quaternary Science Reviews 141: 52-64.
2017-2020 – NSF “The Flavors of Southwest Hydroclimatic Extremes” $559,474 (PI with 3 others)
2013-2018 – NOAA/USAID “Integrating Climate Information and Decision Processes for Regional Resilience” $3,173,026 Senior personnel with several others – this is a new partnership with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia – focused on international climate adaptation)
2014-2018 – NSF “Collaborative Research: Understanding the Full Range of Amazon Drought and Impacts.” 4 years - $331,900 (PI with one other)
2013-2018 – NSF “EaSM 2 Collaborative Research on Quantifying and Conveying the Risk of Prolonged Drought in Coming Decades.”5 years - $1,362,189 (PI with 3 others).
2015 – Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
2013 – Radical Center Award from the Quivira Coalition, NM – awarded to individuals “who have shown remarkable and enduring leadership in the difficult job of working in the radical center - the place where people are coming together to explore their common interests rather than argue their differences.”
2009 – Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2009 – Leading Edge Researcher Award, U. Arizona Office of Economic Development
2008 – NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award
2007 – Nobel Peace Prize – contributed in a leadership role as a Coordinating Lead Author of the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
2007 – Shared winner of Atmospheric Science Librarians International’s Scientific and Technical Category for "high impact comprehensive publication" for Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis.
2005 – Bjerknes Lecturer, American Geophysical Union
2005 – John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award
2004 – Birbal Shani Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, India Prof. T.M. Harris Medal for 2004 (awarded for best Indian co-authored paper in field in 2004)
2001 - Walter Orr Roberts 2001 Award, American Meteorological Society
1999 - US Department of Commerce Gold Medal
1996 - US Department of Commerce Outstanding Performance Award
1995 - National Geophysical Data Center Director Award
1994 - US Department of Commerce Bronze Medal
PHD in Geological Sciences, Brown University, Rhode Island
MSc in Geological Sciences, Brown University
BA in Geology (Honors), Hamilton College, New York
2014-2020 – Member, U.S. National Research Council, U.S. National Academy of Science, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
2014-present – Founding Member, Colorado River Research Group (CRRG), an independent, scientific voice for the future of the Colorado River (http://www.coloradoriverresearchgroup.org)
2012-2020 – Member, U.S. National Research Council, U.S. National Academy of Science, Board on Environmental Change and Society
2011-present – Science Advisor, Climate Communication (climatecommunication.org)