Kathy Jacobs

Director - Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions

Professor - Soil, Water, and Environmental Science

Selected programs/projects:

  • National Climate Assessment (2010-2013): Jacobs served as an Assistant Director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. She was the director of the National Climate Assessment, leading a team of 300 authors and more than a thousand contributors who wrote the Third NCA report. Jacobs was also the lead advisor on water science and policy, and climate adaptation, within OSTP.
  • Arizona Water Institute (2006-2009): As Executive Director, Jacobs was responsible for program development, building collaborative partnerships with communities, agencies and tribes, project management, inter-university and inter-agency coordination, grant writing and fundraising, outreach, education, and technology transfer for an innovative institute linking Arizona’s three universities. She also facilitated workshops, supervised employees and students, managed research projects and gave public lectures and presentations.
  • Tucson Active Management Area, Arizona Department of Water Resources (1988-2001): As Director, Jacobs managed the groundwater rights in the greater Tucson area, oversaw and managed all aspects of the Tucson office of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and developed water management policy and regulations, including mandatory conservation requirements, the Assured Water Supply Rules, recharge and recovery activities, and consensus building relative to major water conflicts.

Selected publications:

  • Jacobs, K., and P. Fleming, in press. Climate change: A strategic opportunity for water managers. In Metropolitan Water Policy in the Face of Climate Change: Strategies for Resilience, Sustainability and Regional Competitiveness, Brookings.

  • Jacobs, K.L., S. Moser and J.L. Buizer, eds., 2016.  The US National Climate Assessment: Innovations in Science and Engagement. Springer International, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-41802-5.

  • Jacobs, K.L., 2015. California water enters an era of limits. Journal of Extreme Events, 2(1). doi:10.1142/S2345737615020030

  • Jacobs, K., J.L. Buizer, 2015. Building community, credibility and knowledge: The third US National Climate Assessment. Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1445-8
  • Howden, M., and K.L. Jacobs, 2015. Innovations in assessment and adaptation: Building on the US National Climate Assessment. Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1519-7
  • Ma, X., P. Fox, C. Tilmes, K. Jacobs, and A. Waple, 2014. Capturing provenance of global change information. Nature Climate Change, 4: 409-413. doi:10.1038/nclimate2141
  • Weaver, C.J., S. Mooney, D. Allen, N. Beller-Simms, T. Fish, A.E. Grambsch, W. Hohenstein, Jacobs, K., M. Kenney, M.A. Lane, L. Langner, E. Larson, D.L. McGinnis, R.H. Moss, L.G. Nichols, C. Nierenberg, E.A. Seyller, P.C. Stern, and R. Winthrop. 2014. New directions for U.S. global change research: A critical new role for the social sciences in moving science into action. Nature Climate Change 4, 656–659 National Research Council. 2011.
  • America’s Climate Choices: Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. (Panel report, Jacobs and Wilbanks, Chairs). National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Jacobs, K., L. Lebel, J. Buizer, L. Addams, P. Matson, E. McCullough, P.Garden, G. Saliba, and T. Finan, 2010. Linking knowledge with action in the pursuit of sustainable water resources management. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January, 2010.
  • Buizer, J., K. Jacobs and D. Cash, Making short-term climate forecasts useful: Linking science and action. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February, 2010.
  • Garrick, D., K. L. Jacobs, and G.M. Garfin,  2008. Models, assumptions, and stakeholders: Planning for water supply variability in the Colorado River Basin.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 44(2): 381-398. 


  • MLA, Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley, 1981
  • B.A., Biology, Middlebury College, 1977

Expertise Area

  • Scenario Planning
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Public Policy and Governance
  • Climate Assessment
  • Decision-Support
  • Drought
  • Human Dimensions of Climate Change

Language Area

  • French

Geographic Area

  • US/Canada