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Remembering Kelly Redmond (1952 – 2016) –

Kelly Redmond (undated photo, courtesy of Desert Research Institute).
Kelly Redmond (undated photo, courtesy of Desert Research Institute).

It was with great regret that we learned of the passing of Dr. Kelly Redmond, deputy director of the Western Regional Climate Center and professor at the Desert Research Institute. Dr. Redmond passed away on November 4, 2016, after a long battle with cancer. He was a highly respected climatologist, a veteran science communicator, and an enthusiastic mentor to young climate scientists.

Ever since 1989, when NOAA created its six Regional Climate Centers, Dr. Redmond held the position of Regional Climatologist for the Western US. The NOAA RCCs were at the vanguard of federal attention to climate variability and change, and they helped pave the way for climate programs at other agencies, including the USDA Climate Hubs. Dr. Redmond provided advice and guidance to the California Climate Hub (and our sister Hub, the Southwest Climate Hub based in Las Cruces, NM) ever since our inception in 2014.

As Regional Climatologist, Dr. Redmond not only worked to improve data collection and analysis for the West’s complicated and variable climate, he strove to inspire and inform popular interest in these topics. He often gave public lectures (for example, on climate change and Western water at the Aspen Global Change Institute’s 2003 annual lecture) and media interviews (for example, to Capital Public Radio about ENSO influences on 2015 summer thunderstorms). His devotion to public service and outreach in no way diminished his prolific career as a research scientist.

At the 2015 US Drought Monitor Forum in Reno, NV, Dr. Redmond discussed the challenge of seasonal forecasts: land users want short-term predictions, but current models are unreliable at that time scale. “We need to consider the ‘angle of repose‘, Dr. Redmond said. “Some problems have a steep angle of repose: it doesn’t take long to stack the building blocks up tall and reach your answer. Other problems have a shallow angle of repose: you need to amass a huge base of additional knowledge before you can even begin to make headway. Which type of problem is this? The climate system is chaotic at monthly time scales, so I would argue that it is the latter – but it is still worth pursuing. We just need to be in it for the long haul.”

Thank you, Dr. Redmond, for your sustained effort on climate puzzles large and small, and for eloquently bringing these topics into the public view. Your Climate Hub colleagues will miss your insights and encouragement.

A memorial service for Kelly Redmond will be held at 2 PM on Friday, January 13, at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. You can RSVP here.