Chris Funk is a senior Research Geographer with the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) EROS Early Warning and Environmental Monitoring Group, an affiliated Research Professor with the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Geography Department, and Research Director for the Climate Hazards Center (CHC). Chris received a B.A. from the University of Chicago, focusing on a study of the Classics and Philosophy of Science, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from UCSB Geography. Since 1998, Chris has worked closely with the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (www.fews.net), more-or-less consistently pursuing three main goals for over two decades: i) the enhanced use of climate predictions within the food security community, ii) the development of techniques and data sets for the improved monitoring of hydrologic extremes in the developing world, and iii) the improved use of climate services in developing nations. To pursue these goals, Chris helped found the Climate Hazards Group (chg.ucsb.edu) in 2003 as a collaboration between the USGS and UCSB. The Group has recently transitioned to an official UC center (the CHC). The CHC hosts a unique combination of international and national scientists. This combination enables the CHC to enhance climate services in Africa and Latin America while also providing critical analyses that support the early warning needs of FEWS NET. These capacity building efforts focus on enhancing regional Climate Outlook Fora and the climate services provided by regional and national meteorological agencies. The CHC also partners closely with NASA SERVIR, the NASA HARVEST program and GEOGLAM.
Chris has published numerous scientific papers on climate variability, drought monitoring and data sets. Most recently, his climate variability work has focused on ENSO-related extremes and opportunities for prediction in Eastern and Southern Africa. These efforts have also resulted in several short articles in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society’s “Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective” special issues. Funk’s view is that as climate change produces more extreme sea surface temperatures, we will have more opportunities for climate prediction. Most recently, this work helped correctly predict repeated East African droughts and motivate an effective response to the 2016-17 La Niña food crisis in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Together with Pete Peterson and other CHC collaborators, Chris also works hard on developing datasets, most notably the Climate Hazards InfraRed Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) global gridded precipitation archive, and the new Tmax analog product (still in beta). As a senior member of the FEWS NET science team, Funk helps coordinate activities across partner agencies (USGS, NASA, NOAA, USDA, UCSB). As an affiliated UC faculty member he sits on quite a few grad student committees and guides post-doctoral researchers. Chris lives happily in the mountains behind Santa Barbara with his wife and twins (Sabina, Amelie and Theo), where he enjoys trail running, stone carving and working on his house.