Amir AghaKouchak is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on natural hazards and climate extremes and crosses the boundaries between hydrology, climatology, remote sensing. One of his main research areas is studying and understanding the interactions between different types of climatic and non-climatic hazards including compound and cascading events. He has received a number of honors and awards including the American Geophysical Union’s James B. Macelwane Medal and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Huber Research Prize. Amir is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Earth’s Future. He has served as the principal investigator of several interdisciplinary research grants funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Amir has a passion for nature and landscape photography, and he uses his photos for creating educational materials.
Areas of Expertise (8)
Remote Sensing of the Environment
ASCE Huber Prize (professional)
AGU Fellow (professional)
American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal (professional)
AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award (professional)
IAHS/STAHY Best Paper Award (professional)
2017 Cheng, L., Aghakouchak, A. Nonstatlonary precipitation intensity-duration-frequency curves for infrastructure design in a changing climate (2014) Scientific Reports, 4, art. no. 7093
Outstanding ASCE Faculty Advisor (professional)
Orange County Engineering Council (OCEC) Distinguished Educator Award (professional)
Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) Award (professional)
2014 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) of the National Academies
University of Stuttgart: PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering 2010
K.N. Toosi University of Technology: MSc, Civil Engineering 2005
Major: Water Resources
K.N. Toosi University of Technology: BSc, Civil Engineering 2001
Major: Water Resources
Media Appearances (7)
‘Expect More’: Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam Failures
New York Times online
“We should expect more of these down the road,” said Amir AghaKouchak, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s unfortunate but this is what the trend is going to be.”
Climate change is making droughts hotter and more intense
“Heat waves and droughts have significant impacts on their own, but when they occur simultaneously, their negative effects are greatly compounded,” said Amir AghaKouchak, a co-author of the study. “Both phenomena, which are intensifying due to climate warming, are expected to have increasingly harmful consequences for agriculture, infrastructure, and human health.”
Amir AghaKouchak to receive American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal
UCI News online
The American Geophysical Union will award its 2019 James B. Macelwane Medal to Amir AghaKouchak, UCI professor of civil & environmental engineering. The medal is given annually to a small group of early career researchers for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences. The AGU recognized AghaKouchak for his fundamental and innovative contributions to the study of hydrologic extremes and compound natural hazards.
US infrastructure unprepared for increasing frequency of extreme storms
"Design engineers at cities, consulting companies, and counties use this for different purposes, like infrastructure design management, infrastructure risk assessment and so forth. It has a lot of engineering applications," said Amir Aghakouchak, a hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine who was not involved with the new study.
How Climate Change Drives Disaster Cascades
Public Policy Institute of California online
California has had a devastating series of natural disasters recent years, prompting questions about the role of climate change in worsening fires, droughts, and floods. We talked to Amir AghaKouchak—an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Irvine―about how a warming climate is affecting natural hazards.
Extreme Flooding from Florence Likely, Due to a Convergence of Threats
Scientific American online
“We have ignored it in the past, we cannot ignore it in the future,” says Amir AghaKouchak, a civil engineer at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied the issue.
The incredible ecosystem of Earth’s hottest spot
Science Magazine online
"I noticed a weird noise," recalls expedition member Amir AghaKouchak, a hydrologist at the University of California (UC), Irvine. A continuous, soft crackling emanated from the walls. He speculates that the sound was the rock expanding as temperatures soared from nightly lows near 0°C up to fall daily maximums of about 40°C. "I just stopped and listened to this beautiful music."
Research Grants (3)
Resilience of Geotechnical Infrastructure under a Changing Climate: Quantitative Assessment for Extreme Events
Monitoring and managing food, energy, and water systems under stress
Weather Augmented Risk Determination System
Changes in the exposure of California's Levee-Protected Critical Infrastructure to flooding hazard in a warming climateEnvironmental Research Letters
2020 Levee systems are an important part of California's water infrastructure, engineered to provide resilience against flooding and reduce flood losses. The growth in California is partly associated with costly infrastructure developments that led to population expansion in the levee protected areas.
Impacts of ozone and climate change on yields of perennial crops in CaliforniaNature Food
2020 Changes in temperature and air pollution affect agricultural productivity, but most relevant research has focused on major annual crops (for example, wheat, maize, soy and rice). In contrast, relatively little is known about the effects of climate change and air quality on perennial crops such as fruits and nuts, which are important to dietary diversity and nutrition, and represent ~38% of California’s agriculture by economic value.
Flash droughts present a new challenge for subseasonal-to-seasonal predictionNature Climate Change volume
2020 Flash droughts are a recently recognized type of extreme event distinguished by sudden onset and rapid intensification of drought conditions with severe impacts. They unfold on subseasonal-to-seasonal timescales (weeks to months), presenting a new challenge for the surge of interest in improving subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction. Here we discuss existing prediction capability for flash droughts and what is needed to establish their predictability.
Climate Extremes and Compound Hazards in a Warming WorldAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
2020 Climate extremes threaten human health, economic stability, and the well-being of natural and built environments (e.g., 2003 European heat wave). As the world continues to warm, climate hazards are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. The impacts of extreme events will also be more severe due to the increased exposure (growing population and development) and vulnerability (aging infrastructure) of human settlements.
How do natural hazards cascade to cause disasters?Nature
2018 This has been an exceptional year so far for natural disasters. Typhoons in Asia and Hurricane Florence hitting the US east coast have caused extensive damage, flooding and mudslides. In the past two months, Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal, the United Kingdom, North America and South Africa experienced fierce forest blazes.
Mountain snowpack response to different levels of warmingPNAS
2018 Across the world, the seasonal montane snowpack stores and releases substantial amounts of water annually. As the global temperature is projected to rise, it becomes increasingly important to assess the vulnerability of the mountain snowpack. We therefore turn to the historical record to understand the extent to which snow water equivalent (SWE) and its centroid respond to different levels of warming.
Compounding effects of sea level rise and fluvial floodingPNAS
2017 Population and assets in coastal regions are threatened by both oceanic and fluvial flooding hazards. Common flood hazard assessment practices typically focus on one flood driver at a time and ignore potential compounding impacts.