Chris Funk is a Research Geographer with the US Geological Survey and a founding member of the University of California Santa Barbara's Climate Hazard Group (CHG). Chris' research focuses on three main areas: drought early warning, 'forensic' drought analysis techniques, and evaluations of long term trends in climate and food security. He works primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa in support of the US Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET).
His drought early warning research has focused on improving satellite rainfall estimates, enhancing historical precipitation archives, providing more accurate and timely climate forecasts, producing NDVI-based yield predictions, and developing improved online decision support tools. Dr. Funk's drought forensics use climate reanalyses to evaluate the fluctuations in energy and moisture transports that lead to rainfall deficits in sub-tropical monsoonal weather regimes. By following the water and energy, we can gain critical insights into emergent and persistent drought patterns, both at seasonal and multi-annual time scales. Chris' work combines these diagnostic climate analyses with careful evaluations of terrestrial rainfall trends. This work has identified a link between anthropogenic warming in the Indian Ocean and more frequent droughts in eastern Africa. Current research is extending this analysis of drought trends into India.
Chris directs research activities at the Climate Hazard Group, and is a member of the USGS EROS Early Warning and Environmental Monitoring Group. He helps coordinate a large multi-year collaboration between the USGS, UCSB and USAID, focused on improved drought early warning, and serves as the lead FEWS NET climate change scientist. He collaborates with many colleagues in Africa, the USGS, NASA, NOAA, and UCSB, teaches spatial statistics at UCSB, and advises graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.