Bathke named Nebraska state climatologist

by Emily Case-Buskirk | National Drought Mitigation Center

a photo of new Nebraska state climatologist Deb Bathke
June 25, 2024

Lincoln, Neb. — Deb Bathke has been named the Nebraska state climatologist, a role she has held in an interim capacity since November. Larkin Powell, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, said her background and experience make her uniquely positioned to take on the role. 

The state climatologist is integral in guiding climate research and outreach for Nebraska,” Powell said.Deb is a nationally known climatologist with the ability to bring experts and community members together to advance the conversation on climate issues in the state.”  

The Nebraska State Climate Office is part of the SNR and serves as a primary source of climate information. The office manages the Nebraska Mesonet, a network of collectively operated weather stations. 

Bathke grew up in Nebraska and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNL. She earned a PhD in atmospheric sciences from The Ohio State University. Before joining the National Drought Mitigation Center in 2008, she served as the assistant state climatologist for New Mexico for three years. 

Bathke’s first priority as the Nebraska state climatologist is to complete a report assessing impacts of climate change, requested by the Nebraska Legislature through LB1255. The report is due Dec. 1, 2024.  

To write the report, Bathke convened an advisory group, writing team and reviewers. It will encompass 13 topics including ecosystems, agriculture, communities, energy and human health. 

Secondary priorities for her tenure are to assess needs for climate education, information and data in the state. This includes assisting with efforts to expand the Nebraska Mesonet and developing a strategic plan for the office. 

Bathke plans to strengthen the network of Nebraska climate resources and reach more areas of the state. 

I’m looking forward to growing the climate office into a hub by coordinating with experts to address all the multifaceted angles of climate research and outreach,” she said. 

The climate office is also involved with Nebraska’s Climate Assessment and Response Committee, Weather Ready Farms, Water and Integrated Cropping Systems Hub and the U.S. Drought Monitor network. 

Other members of the climate office team include Eric Hunt, SNR agricultural meteorology and climate resilience extension educator, and Ruben Behnke, SNR Nebraska Mesonet manager. 

Bathke succeeds Martha Durr, who served as state climatologist for nearly eight years. 

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