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The Carbon Brief Interview: Dr Katharine Hayhoe

Dr Katharine Hayhoe is a professor in the department of political science at Texas Tech University and director of its Climate Science Center. She was a lead author on the Climate Science Special Report, part of the fourth US National Climate Assessment, which was published in early November 2017. Hayhoe is also a science advisor on the US documentary series Years of Living Dangerouslyand was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014.

Together with her husband, Hayhoe wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. She also writes and produces an animated series on YouTube called “Global Weirding”.

  • Hayhoe on her early research career: “I was looking around for an extra course that might be interesting and I saw a class on climate modelling over in the geography department.”
  • On regional climate information: “I evaluate the downscaling methods we use to take the relatively coarse information from the big global models and downscale it to much higher spatial and sometimes even high temporal resolution at the local to regional scale.”
  • On improving climate models: “The smaller the spatial grids and the smaller the time step we use in the model, the better we’re able to actually explicitly resolve the physical processes in the climate.”
  • On the biggest unknowns of future climate change:“There are long-term processes in the climate system that we’re not yet incorporating in our models and when we do, the final outcome of this inadvertent experiment that we’ve been conducting with our planet is likely to be worse, not better, than we thought.”
  • On Donald Trump’s presidency: “I know this sounds very strange – but I really believe that his election galvanised people into personal action in a way that never would have happened if Clinton had been elected.”

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