Isabella Velicogna is a Professor of Earth System Sciences at the University of California Irvine and a Faculty Part time at NASA/Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. She uses novel geophysical methods and satellite remote sensing techniques to understand the physical processes governing ice sheet mass balance and the hydrologic cycle of high latitude regions, with an emphasis on time-variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission, follow-on gravity missions, and other geophysical data (GPS, precipitation reanalysis, laser altimetry, regional climate models, and in situ observations).
Areas of Expertise (4)
Sea Level Rise
UCI School of Physical Sciences award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (professional)
NASA Group Achievement Award (professional)
2013 Ice Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise Team (IMBIE)
University of Trieste, Italy: PhD, Engineering (Geodynamics) 1999
University of Trieste, Italy: MS, Physics 1995
University of Trieste, Italy: BS, Physics 1995
- American Meteorological Society (AMS)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- American Geophysical Union (AGU)
- International Glaciological Society (IGS)
- European Geophysical Union (EGU)
Media Appearances (7)
UCI Researchers Receive More Than $8 Million to Advance California's Climate Goals
Three University of California, Irvine researchers will receive more than $8 million in climate action grants to support projects that will help advance progress toward California's climate goals. … The UCI recipients are: A multi-disciplinary team led by Steven Allison, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will receive $5.5 million in matching funding to create a regional network that helps California communities adapt to climate change, conserve and steward land and mitigate climate risks. ... Alejandro Camacho, Chancellor's Professor of law [and Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development], will receive $1.2 million in seed funding to develop innovative, local land-use plans aligned with state climate objectives and mandates. ... Isabella Velicogna, professor of Earth system science [and Associate Dean Graduate Studies, Equity and Inclusion], will receive $2 million in seed funding for a project that will combine model forecasts and satellite and Earth-surface observations to provide vastly improved seasonal and sub-seasonal projections of California's hydroclimate and its impact on agricultural output.
Women on the front lines of climate science
ABC News online
Isabella Velicogna is a Professor of Earth System Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. "I am a geophysicist. I study the glaciers and ice sheets using time variable gravity data from satellites in combination with other observations. My research goal is to understand how the ice sheets contribute to sea level rise now and in the future. I also conduct field experiments in glacial fjords to measure what we cannot observe from satellites to better understand the glacier evolution." [Slide 17 & 18]
Parts of Greenland now hotter than at any time in the last 1,000 years, scientists say
The Washington Post online
The new research “pushes back the instrument record 1,000 years using data from within Greenland that shows unprecedented warming in the recent period,” said Isabella Velicogna, a glaciologist [and professor] at the University of California, Irvine who was not involved in the research. “This is not changing what we already knew about the warming signal in Greenland, the increase in melt and accelerated flow of ice into the ocean, and that this will be challenging to slow down,” Velicogna said. “Still, it adds momentum to the seriousness of the situation. This is bad, bad news for Greenland and for all of us.”
A forgotten Cold War experiment has revealed its icy secret. It’s bad news for the planet.
The Washington Post online
“But if we warm up the ice sheet more than 1.5 degrees Celsius” - a number United Nations scientists have identified as the threshold for catastrophic climate change - “the risk of complete removal gets higher and higher,” said Isabella Velicogna, an ice expert at the University of California, Irvine who was not involved in the new study.
Ice shelf protecting Antarctic glacier is breaking up faster
“Pine Island and Thwaites are our biggest worry now because they are falling apart and then the rest of West Antarctica will follow according to nearly all models,” said University of California Irvine ice scientist Isabella Velicogna, who wasn’t part of the study.
How climate change moved Earth's axis
"The Earth is like a spinning top, and if you put more mass on one side or the other, the axis of rotation is going to shift slightly," explained Isabella Velicogna, a professor of earth system sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Women on the front lines of climate science
ABC News online
Isabella Velicogna is a Professor of Earth System Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. "I am a geophysicist. I study the glaciers and ice sheets using time variable gravity data from satellites in combination with other observations. My research goal is to understand how the ice sheets contribute to sea level rise now and in the future. I also conduct field experiments in glacial fjords to measure what we cannot observe from satellites to better understand the glacier evolution."
Satellite detection of varying seasonal water supply restrictions on grassland productivity in the Missouri basin, USARemote Sensing of Environment
A Geruo, Isabella Velicogna, Meng Zhao, Andreas Colliander, John S Kimball
2020 Climate observations indicate more frequent drought in recent years, and model predictions suggest that drought occurrence will continue to rise with global warming. Understanding drought impacts on ecosystem functioning requires accurate quantification of vegetation sensitivity to changes in water supply condition. This is complicated by the seasonal variation in plant structural and physiological response to water stress, especially for semi-arid grasslands with characteristic strong spatial and temporal variability in carbon uptake.
Below-surface water mediates the response of African forests to reduced rainfallEnvironmental Research Letters
Nima Madani, John S Kimball, Nicholas C Parazoo, Ashley P Ballantyne, Torbern Tagesson, Lucas A Jones, Rolf H Reichle, Paul I Palmer, Isabella Velicogna, A Anthony Bloom, Sassan Saatchi, Zhihua Liu, A Geruo
2020 Terrestrial ecosystem gross primary productivity (GPP) is the largest land-atmosphere carbon flux and the primary mechanism of photosynthetic fixation of atmospheric CO2 into plant biomass. Anomalous rainfall events have been shown to have a great impact on the global carbon cycle. However, less is known about the impact of these events on GPP, especially in Africa, where in situ observations are sparse.
Planning for a Changing Mountain Hydroclimate: Using Large Ensembles to Assess Future Risks (Invited Presentation)100th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting
Sarah Kapnick, Thomas L Delworth, Hoi Ga Chan, William F Cooke, Paul Ginoux, S Malyshev, Salvatore Pascale, DB Kirschbaum, Thomas A Stanley, Isabella Velicogna
2020 Large ensembles are useful tools for providing probabilistic estimates of future climate. For climate extremes, they are critical for generating sufficient data to quantify climate risk exposure. For regions of the world where adaptation is closely tied to historical records, large ensembles provide estimates of future shifts in the mean state and variability. Understanding changes in the statistics of climate are critical for effective risk management.
Self‐Consistent Ice Mass Balance and Regional Sea Level From Time‐Variable GravityEarth and Space Science
Tyler C. Sutterley, Isabella Velicogna, Chia‐Wei Hsu
2020 Measurements of time‐variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and the GRACE Follow‐on (GRACE‐FO) missions are an invaluable tool for monitoring changes in the mass of the Earth's glaciated regions. We improve upon estimates of glacier and ice sheet mass balance from time‐variable gravity by including instantaneous spatiotemporal variations in sea level.
Evaluation of Regional Climate Models Using Regionally Optimized GRACE Mascons in the Amery and Getz Ice Shelves Basins, AntarcticaGeophysical Research Letters
Yara Mohajerani, Isabella Velicogna, Eric Rignot
2019 We develop regionally optimized Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) solutions to evaluate the mass balance of the drainage basins of Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, and Getz Ice Shelf, West Antarctica. We find that the Amery region is near balance, while the Getz region is rapidly losing mass.