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Who we are, what we do

WWA conducts innovative research in partnership with decision makers in the Rocky Mountain West, helping them make the best use of science to manage for climate impacts. WWA is a program of the University of Colorado Boulder and is part of the NOAA RISA (Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments) network.

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Intermountain West Climate Dashboard

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

Most recent Briefing:
January 14

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

SNOTEL sensor upgrade has caused temperature record inhomogeneities for the Intermountain West

December 2015


The motivation for this briefing is to examine the large inhomogeneity (step shift) in the observed temperature record at the SNOw TELemetry (SNOTEL) stations in the Intermountain West and its implications for climate, hydrology and ecological research in the region. Read the full briefing.

Rangwala, I., Bardsley, T., Pescinski, M., and J. Miller (2015). Western Water Assessment Climate Research Briefing.

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center and the Decision Making Process

November 2015


This study investigated characteristics of the users or potential users of Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) forecasts and their decision making contexts, and analyzed the utility of a Western Water Assessment project quantifying the contribution of tree death due to bark beetle infestation along with desert dust deposition on snowpack on streamflow. Read the full report.

Klein, R. and L. Dilling, 2015. Western Water Assessment White Paper.

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.

WWA Spotlight

2015: warmest year on record globally and for the western US; 3rd-warmest for Colorado, Utah, Wyoming

NOAAand NASA announced on January 20 that according to their respective analyses of surface temperature records, 2015 was the warmest calendar year on record (since 1880) globally, by a large margin over 2014. NOAA also reported that for the western US, 2015 was the warmest year on record (since 1895), just topping 1934, and the 3rd-warmest year on record (since 1895) for each of the states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. (January 22, 2016)


Lisa Dilling appears on KGNU Science Show

Seth ArensAs political leaders are still hammering out an accord at the UN Climate Summit (COP21), in Paris, to rein in global warming. KGNU Science Show discussed the underlying scientific facts about climate change, and the policy promises and challenges for our future with WWA's Lisa Dilling. Listen to the show (start time: 7:06). (December 8, 2015)

Seth Arens joins WWA as Utah research integration specialist

Seth ArensWe’re pleased to announce that Seth Arens has joined WWA as our research integration specialist in Utah. Seth has a diverse background in science, including research experience in ecosystem and plant physiological ecology, snow hydrology and atmospheric science. Seth worked as an environmental scientist for the Utah Division of Air Quality, where he developed research program to assess the extent and causes of ozone pollution in Utah and maintained Utah’s air quality monitoring network from 2010-2015. Prior to working in Utah, Seth studied impacts of climate change on ecosystem structure and carbon balance of Arctic ecosystems in Alaska and Greenland. Seth earned a BA in Biology and Environmental Policy from Colby College in Waterville, ME, an MS in Biological Science from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and an MS in Biology from the University of Utah. (December 1, 2015)

WWA & NOAA PSD El Niño Impacts for Colorado Briefing 10/23 - Archived Webcast & Two-Pager

On Friday, October 23, WWA and the NOAA ESRL Physical Science Division (PSD) convened a panel of experts to discuss what El Niño is and what it does, past El Niño impacts across Colorado, and what kind of weather we might expect in Colorado this fall, winter and spring. The archived webcast can be accessed here (forward to the 3:10 mark). The briefing and discussion were based on a two-page El Niño briefing document released the same day. (October 23, 2015)

NOAA announces another round of funding for Western Water Assessment

NOAA announced they will support Western Water Assessment (WWA) for another five years. The Climate Program Office recently funded 53 new projects aimed at improving climate research and the ability of communities to respond. Included in the list was WWA, which received $4 million over the next five years. Under this new round of funding, we plan to pursue three main research themes. One of those is to examine how the science developed by WWA and other research entities can be made more useful to decision-making. Another research theme over the next five years will be vulnerability and adaptation. We plan to focus on how Utah, Colorado and Wyoming are vulnerable to climate change, as well as how to design more adaptive and resilient systems, looking specifically at water supply. And, finally, in an extension of our work on the 2013 Front Range floods, we want to better understand extreme weather and climate events and help to use that understanding to inform future decisions. (October 8, 2015)