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I am a research hydrologist & climatologist, as a Visiting Researcher for Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a Research Professor at the Desert Research Institute, retired from the U.S. Geological Survey. I research the hydrology, climate, and water resources of the West, focusing on hydroclimatic variability and climate-change impacts. For contracting purposes, a few years back, I set up a one-person LLC, called Michael Dettinger Climate Science, LLC.

Over the years, I've been: 

  • Physical-sciences team leader for DOI-DOD ecosystem planning in the Mojave Desert (in the 1990s),

  • Member USGS committee to design National Ground-water Climate-Response Monitoring Network, 1995-1997,

  • Member of executive committee for selling and initial implementation of USA National Phenological Network, 2005-2007,

  • A founding organizer of CIRMONT Western Mountain Climate Sciences Consortium, 2004-2014,

  • Co-editor of 2008 & 2016 State of Bay-Delta Science reports,

  • Research advisor for USGS Surface-Water Discipline, 2009-2014,

  • A lead author of the Water Resources chapter of the 2013 National Climate Assessment,

  • Convening lead author of California 4th Climate Assessment Sierra Nevada Region Report, 2017-2018,

  • Chair of AMS Water Resources Committee, 2015-2019,

  • Standing Review Board for NASA's Surface-Water/Oceans Topography (SWOT) mission, 2013-2022, 

  • Member of steering committees for Russian River Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations viability assessments, 2014-2022.


I've authored and co-authored 160+ scientific articles and chapters in scholarly journals and books, 34 government reports, and 100+ other reports in less formal outlets. My work has been cited in the scientific literature 35,000 times (>14,000 since 2018), and my research has led directly to three new entries in the American Meteorological Society's Glossary of Meteorology since 2018.

Photo: Lamoille Cyn, Ruby Mtns, Nevada



for "physical-science leadership [as phys-sci team leader] in multiagency DOD/DOI Mojave ecosystem planning," 1996


California Department of Water Resources

for "helping DWR to incorporate climate-change adaptation into water planning and management"

2007, 2014

Hydrology FELLOW,

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

for "insightful, societally relevant research in understanding how climate and weather affect the variability of hydrologic systems," 2014

Atmospheric & Hydrospheric FELLOW, American Association for the Advancement of Science

for "seminal contributions to the understanding of the hydroclimatology of the Western US,” 2018

SENIOR SCIENTIST, US Geological Survey


SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD, California Extreme Precipitation Symposium

for "scientific contributions [that] have informed public decisionmaking resulting in increased public safety from floods and droughts," 2020



University of California, San Diego

BA Physics, Summa cum Laude


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MS Civil Engineering (Water Resources)


University of California, Los Angeles

MS & PhD Atmospheric Sciences

AGU TYNDALL LECTURER on History of Global Environmental Change, speaking about the history of water resources & climate change studies in the Western US, 2021

US NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERS, for "hydroclimate research that significantly enhanced the understanding and management of water resources in the western United States," 2022

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