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Michael Rawlins - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Michael Rawlins

Extension Associate Professor and Associate Director, Climate System Research Center | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Michael Rawlins seeks to connect and understand water, energy and carbon cycling across the earth's land, atmosphere, and ocean domains.

Expertise (6)



Arctic Science


Hydrology of Arctic Environments

Climate Change


Michael Rawlins comments on the impact of climate change on the earth. Most recently he's appeared in print and video discussing evidence he's found that thawing permafrost in northern Alaska is altering the hydrological system of the Arctic, which disrupts the region’s inhabitants and changes the environment into a source of carbon emission.

As associate director of the Climate System Research Center at UMass, he's also often called on to explain how climate change is affecting life in the Northeast United States.

Social Media






Climate Report | Connecting Point | May 19, 2014


Education (3)

University of New Hampshire: Ph.D., Earth and Environmental Sciences

University of Delaware: M.S., Geography/Climatology

University of Delaware: B.S., Environmental Science

Select Media Coverage (9)

The plants tell the story: Massachusetts’ coldest days not nearly so cold

The Boston Globe  print


Michael Rawlins comments in an article reporting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its plant hardiness map to reflect the warmer climate over the past 30 years. Among other changes, the new map removes pockets in north-central and western Massachusetts where temperatures were expected to reach as low as 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero at least once each winter. “There should be no doubt that a warming climate attributable to human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels, is the dominant influence on these changes,” Rawlins says.

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Predatory fish could lose 40 percent of habitat by 2100, with Northwest Atlantic a hot spot, study finds

The Boston Globe  online


Michael Rawlins adds context to reports of oceans warming due to climate change in an article covering a study about predatory fish habitat loss.The new study says that predatory fish could lose 40 percent of their habitat by 2100. Rawlins explains that the Northwest Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico are among the Earth’s fastest-warming ocean regions.


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Increased January rainfall ends drought in Massachusetts

New England Public Media  


Michael Rawlins, a climatologist and associate director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said despite wetter conditions of late, some water sources will take longer to replenish. "Deeper groundwater recharge, that will likely take several more months, at least normal precipitation in the spring and going into the summer," he said.

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Massachusetts doesn’t have a state climatologist. Here’s why that matters.

The Boston Globe  print


"Without a climatologist, there is no clear point of contact for the public, businesses, educators, and policymakers, said Michael Rawlins, associate director of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst. Rawlins has tried to meet this need by serving as a de facto (and pro bono) climatologist, but there are only so many hours in a day. For example, he’s tried to disseminate weather and climate information to the media, and he did about 20 interviews last year."

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In a record-breaking year of weather, signs of a changed world

The Boston Globe  print


“Our climate is fundamentally altered from what older generations would recall,” said Michael Rawlins, associate director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


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Carbon Arctic Cycle: Further Insight on How This Element is Transferred Between Land, Atmosphere and Ocean Unveiled

The Science Times  online


The University of Massachusetts Amherst's geosciences department professor and associate director of the Climate System Research Center Michael Rawlings made substantial gains in filling out the insight of the carbon Arctic cycle, or the manner that carbon is being transferred between the land, atmosphere, and ocean via the recently published papers.

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Welcome to the Climate Apocalypse. (It will get worse.)

The Boston Globe  print


When it comes to rain, there’s another issue at play too, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water. “The atmosphere can hold 4 percent more water for every 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming,” said Michael Rawlins, of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When you have a storm system with significantly more water in it just sit over one spot, what might have been a rainy day a few decades ago looks more like a tragedy.


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A Region Of Rain: July On Pace To Be One Of The Wettest On Record

New England Public Media  radio


In a radio interview, Michael Rawlins discusses the recent trend of wet weather and explains what might be happening in the climate to cause such patterns. He says, “to some extent, we can expect an increase in heavy precipitation events as the climate warms.”

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Hazy New England Skies Caused By Wildfires In The West Are 'Astounding And Quite Troubling'

WBUR  radio


Michael Rawlins discusses climate changes leading to wildfires in the Western U.S. and causing hazy skies over New England. He says climate impacts, including the five-fold increase in wild fires in the West and a record warm summer in Massachusetts, can be expected to continue given the amount of burning of fossil fuels and the limited mitigation being done.


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Select Publications (1)

Why a warming climate can bring bigger snowstorms

The Conversation

Michael Rawlins


Michael Rawlins writes about the effects of climate change on snowstorms. “The sharp increase in high-impact Northeast winter storms is an expected manifestation of a warming climate,” Rawlins says. “It’s another risk the U.S. will have to prepare for as extreme events become more common with climate change."

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