Bathke selected to serve as interim state climatologist

by Emily Case-Buskirk | National Drought Mitigation Center

Color portrait of Deborah Bathke on red campus background
Deborah Bathke
December 6, 2023

Deborah Bathke has been named interim state climatologist in the Nebraska State Climate Office by Larkin Powell, director of the University of Nebraska–Lincon’s School of Natural Resources.

In this role, she will lead efforts to complete a report assessing impacts of climate change, requested by the Nebraska Legislature through LB1255 in 2022. Bathke co-authored a 2014 report for the legislature that helped stakeholders interpret climate data for decision-making.

“Dr. Bathke is uniquely positioned for this role,” Powell said. “She is known nationally for her work in climate science and has the ability to translate complex data for the public.”

Bathke’s Nebraska roots are well established. She grew up in Ponca, a small community in northeast Nebraska, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nebraska. She returned to the university as a faculty member in 2008, following the completion of her doctorate in atmospheric sciences from Ohio State University and a stint as the assistant state climatologist in New Mexico.

Nebraska is a fascinating place to study climate and weather, Bathke said, and she looks forward to sharing her expertise with the public.

“We get it all here: heavy rains and floods, droughts and heatwaves, and thunderstorms and tornadoes,” Bathke said. “While serving as interim state climatologist, I hope to combine my expertise with my Nebraska roots to help our state better understand and prepare for climate risks.”

Housed in the School of Natural Resources, the Nebraska State Climate Office serves as a primary source of climate information for the state. The climate office manages the Nebraska Mesonet and participates in efforts including Nebraska’s Climate Assessment and Response Committee, Weather Ready Farms, Water and Integrated Cropping Systems Hub and the U.S. Drought Monitor network.

Bathke succeeds Martha Durr, who stepped down as state climatologist in November after nearly eight years in the role. The university is conducting a national search for a full-time state climatologist.

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