- Author: Leigh Bernacchi
Helen Dahlke, an assistant professor in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources Department of UC Davis, has stood on glaciers in Europe and studied Sierra Nevada snowmelt streams. She's working with alfalfa farmers to recharge groundwater. And now she's informing Congress about the future of water in the United States.
A native of Germany, Dahlke established her research program in 2013. She focuses on catchment and experimental hydrology, but her expertise in hydro-climate interactions is what led her to the Capitol.
Dahlke spoke broadly about water and climate challenges in California. “I described how agricultural groundwater banking can help to improve water security in California,” said Dahlke. Adding, “I had an awesome trip.”
After receiving science communication training from COMPASS, a science engagement group, Dahlke also participated in a two-day trip they organized to Washington D.C. to discuss climate change and the future of water in the West. Read more about the issues covered in a COMPASS brief.
Dahlke joined up with four other climate and water science experts:
- Amy Snover, Director, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington
- Shawn Carter, National Climate Change and Wildlife Center, US Geological Survey
- Brian Chaffin, Assistant Professor of Water Policy, University of Montana
- Reed Benson, Professor of Water Law, University of New Mexico
On the first day of the trip, they met with staff from the Congressional Research Service, held a briefing for about 70 representatives and staff, and participated in a side meeting with staff from the Senate and the House. On the second day they met with staff of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Management and Budget (an executive office of the White House).
Dahlke and others discussed the need for further research and research support to ensure that water in the western U.S. will be more resilient to future climate conditions.