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Who we are, what we do

The Western Water Assessment (WWA) is an applied research program that addresses societal vulnerabilities related to climate, particularly in the area of water resources. We work across the Intermountain West—Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—and beyond.

Learn more about WWA

Upcoming WWA Events and Speakers

August 11, 2015
WWA Utah Snowpack Monitoring Workshop

West Jordan, UT

August 27, 2015
WWA Wyoming Snowpack Monitoring Workshop

Lander, WY

September 9, 2015
WWA Colorado Snowpack Monitoring Workshop

Broomfield, CO

September 3, 2015
Seminar series from CIRES and ATOC: Reading IPCC Report
Presenter: Ben Livneh

Intermountain West Climate Dashboard

29 climate and water information graphics for our region—12 are updated daily

Most recent Briefing: July 13

WWA Webinar Series

In 2012, WWA began a series of webinars describing recent and ongoing research by WWA team members. The Webinar Series page offers links to presentations and audio/video from past webinars.

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Recent WWA Publications

Incorporating Potential Severity into Vulnerability Assessment of Water Supply Systems under Climate Change Conditions

August 2015


In response to climate change, vulnerability assessment of water resources systems is typically performed based on quantifying the severity of the failure. This paper introduces an approach to assess vulnerability that incorporates a set of new factors. The method is demonstrated with a case study of a reservoir system in Salt Lake City using an integrated modeling framework composed of a hydrologic model and a systems model driven by temperature and precipitation data for a 30-year historical (1981–2010) period. Read the full article.

Goharian, E., S. J. Burian, T. Bardsley, and C. Strong, 2015. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, August 26.

Community Involvement Critical to Adaptation, Managing Climate Change Risks

May 2015


Our climate is changing, and people around the world are beginning to notice impacts. Birders have remarked how chicks are hatching earlier and earlier in the year, sometimes even missing the peak abundance of their food sources. Residents of the far north observe changes in species patterns, and Arctic coast residents are moving their homes inland to avoid destructive storm surges formerly buffered by pack ice. Read the full article in the Daily Camera.

Dilling, L., 2015. Daily Camera, May 3.

The Dynamics of Vulnerability: Why Adapting to Climate Variability Will Not Always Prepare Us for Climate Change

April 2015


Recent reports and scholarship suggest that adapting to current climate variability may represent a ‘no regrets’ strategy for adapting to climate change. Addressing ‘adaptation deficits’ and other approaches that target existing vulnerabilities are helpful for responding to current climate variability, but we argue that they may not be sufficient for adapting to climate change. Read the full article at WIREs Climate Change.

Dilling, L., M. E. Daly, W. R. Travis, O. V. Wilhelmi, and R. A. Klein, 2015. WIREs Climate Change , doi: 10.1002/wcc.341, Published April 23 2015.

Elevation-Dependent Warming in Mountain Regions of the World

April 2015


There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature than environments at lower elevations. Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) can accelerate the rate of change in mountain ecosystems, cryospheric systems, hydrological regimes and biodiversity. Read the full article at Nature Climate Change.

Pepin, N., et al., 2015. Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, 424-430, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2563.

WWA Spotlight

Job Opportunity: Utah Research Integration Specialist

CIRES/WWA is seeking a full-time Professional Research Assistant to serve as the Utah Research Integration Specialist, supported by a grant from NOAA. The position will be located at the NOAA National Weather Service Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) in Salt Lake City, Utah, but collaborates widely with researchers and stakeholders throughout the region. Read more. (August 31, 2015)

Upcoming workshops: Snowpack monitoring for streamflow forecasting and drought planning

WWA and its partners are convening three all-day workshops focused on improving the usability of snowpack monitoring information for runoff forecasting, drought early warning and planning, and other applications. For more information and registration:

(May 19, 2015)

WWA and CSU release Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study

WWA, in collaboration with Colorado State University, conducted a broad study of climate vulnerability for the state of Colorado. Drawing from existing data and peer-reviewed research, the study summarizes the key challenges facing seven sectors: ecosystems, water, agriculture, energy, transportation, outdoor recreation and tourism, and public health. Read the CIRES press release and download the report.

Also, interviews with WWA's Eric Gordon about the study were broadcasted on KGNU radio's Morning Magazine and Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters. (February 4, 2015)

WWA/CIRES Free Online Course on "Water in the Western United States"

WWA's Eric Gordon and Anne Gold from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) are co-teaching an free online course entitled "Water in the Western United States."

More information and registration for the course can be found here. This college-level course provides a broad overview of the history of water development in the region and relevant hydrology and climatology. The course will run in April, but registration is available now, and there are no requirements other than an Internet connection. We look forward to having you join our course! (December 4, 2014)

Introducing the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

The first phase of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit website was released on November 17. The Toolkit was developed by the NOAA and other Federal agencies to enable decision-makers to take action to boost their climate resilience using data-driven tools, information, and subject-matter expertise to make smarter decisions. The Toolkit offers information from across the federal government in one easy-to-use location. On the 'Find Experts' tab, WWA is listed as one of several entities within Colorado that are ready to assist Toolkit users with interpreting and applying the climate information accessed through the Toolkit. (November 18, 2014)