Jonathan T. Overpeck, Ph.D.

Samuel A. Graham Dean; William B. Stapp Collegiate Professor of Environmental Education; Professor, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering


PHD in Geological Sciences, Brown University, Rhode Island
MSc in Geological Sciences, Brown University
BA in Geology (Honors), Hamilton College, New York

Dana 2046


Professor Overpeck is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and the Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Overpeck has written over 210 published works on climate and the environmental sciences, served as a Working Group 1 Coordinating Lead Author for the Nobel Prize winning IPCC 4th Assessment (2007), and also as a Working Group 2 Lead Author for the IPCC 5th Assessment (2014). Other awards include the US Dept. of Commerce Gold and Bronze Medals, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Walter Orr Roberts award of the American Meteorological Society, and the Quivira Coalition’s Radical Center Award for his work with rural ranchers and land managers.

He has led active climate research programs on five continents. His research is focused on understanding drought and megadrought dynamics (and risk) the world over, and has also served as the lead investigator of Climate Assessment for the Southwest and the SW Climate Science Center – two major programs focused on regional climate adaptation. Overpeck also works more broadly on climate and paleoclimate dynamics, ice sheets and sea level, climate-vegetation interaction, conservation biology, legal issues related to climate change, environmental communication and environmental education. He has appeared and testified before Congress multiple times, is a Fellow of AGU and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and tweets about climate-related issues @GreatLakesPeck .


2017-2020 – NSF “The flavors of Southwest Hydroclimatic Extemes” $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 - Appointed Senior Fellow, U.S. Department of State, Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas
2008 - NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award
2007 - Nobel Peace Prize - contributed in leadership role as a Coordinating Lead Author of the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
2005 - Bjerknes Lecturer, American Geophysical Union
2005 - John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award
1999 - U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal

Select publications: 

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.


American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Geophysical Union
American Meteorological Society
American Quaternary Association
Ecological Society of America
Geological Society of America
Sigma Xi


2014 – present – 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 (
2014 – present – participant, Climate Voices (
2012- present - Member, U.S. National Research Council, U.S. National Academy of Science, Board on Environmental Change and Society
2011- present – Science Advisor, Climate Communication (