snowmelt conservation forecasts adaptation treeflow climate_summary

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

Video: Brad Udall - Climate change and the water cycle in the West

WWA Events and Speakers


Intermountain West Climate Dashboard

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

Most recent Briefing:
April 9

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.

Join our mailing list!

Send an email with your first and last name, email address, and

Recent WWA Publications

Bark Beetles: Cause for Concern in Snowy Western Watersheds?

March 2014

Utility Intelligence & Infrastructure

A five millimeter long insect triggers complex changes in the hydrology of entire watersheds. Read the full article at Utility Intelligence & Infrastructure.


Gordon, E., Pugh, E., and B. Livneh, 2014. Utility Intelligence & Infrastructure, March.

Understanding utility disincentives to water conservation as a means of adapting to climate change pressures

January 2014

Journal of American Water Works Association

A management model that systematically provides incentives for consumption more so than conservation may no longer promise the greatest social benefits. Read the full article at Journal of American Water Works Association.


Kenney, D. S., 2014. Journal of American Water Works Association, Vol. 106, No. 1, 36-46, January.

Combined impacts of current and future dust deposition and regional warming on Colorado River Basin snow dynamics and hydrology

November 2013

The Senator Beck field site amidst extremely dusty snow, San Juan Mountains, Colo., May 16, 2013. Photo by Jeffrey Deems.

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people in seven western states and two countries and to 5.5 million irrigated acres. The river has long been overallocated. Climate models project runoff losses of 5–20% from the basin by mid-21st century due to human-induced climate change. Recent work has shown that decreased snow albedo from anthropogenic dust loading to the CO mountains shortens the duration of snow cover by several weeks relative to conditions prior to western expansion of the US in the mid-1800s, and advances peak runoff at Lees Ferry, Arizona, by an average of 3 weeks. Read the full article at Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.


Deems, J.S., T. H. Painter, J. J. Barsugli, J. Belnap, and B. Udall, 2013. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 17, 4401-4413.

Design of a Severe Climate Change Early Warning System

October 2013

Tsunami warning sign

A skillful early detection and warning system for severe and/or abrupt climate change would benefit both adaptation and preparedness. But what would a severe climate change early warning system look like? Important characteristics of dangerous climate shifts, like rate of onset, intensity, spatial distribution, and predictability, are little known but are the subject of growing research efforts. Some ad hoc forms of climate early warnings are already emerging, and attention now to lessons, positive and negative, from existing hazard warning systems would seem prudent. Read the full article at Weather and Climate Extremes.


Travis, W. R., 2013. Weather and Climate Extremes, October 30.

WWA Spotlight

WWA Team Member wins UCOWR Award

Joe Kasprzyk, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and a member of WWA's research team, was recently awarded the Universities Council on Water Resources Dissertation Award for natural science and engineering. Kasprzyk's research applies many-objective analysis to water resource challenges, helping water resource managers better understand the full suite of available decision options available given various constraints. For more on Joe's work, visit his website. (April 17, 2014)

WWA/NIDIS/GWC Report on climate change and the Navajo Nation released

Considerations for Climate Change and Variability on the Navajo NationWestern Water Assessment, in collaboration with the National Integrated Drought Information System and the Getches-Wilkinson Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, recently completed Considerations for Climate Change and Variability on the Navajo Nation. This report provides the Navajo Nation with a baseline set of information intended for use in adaptation planning for climate variability and change. (April 2, 2014)

New Article by WWA's Eric Gordon and Ben Livneh on bark beetle infestation impacts on water supplies

WWA's Eric Gordon and Ben Livneh, along with their colleague Evan Pugh, recently published an article providing a broad summary of potential effects of bark beetle infestations on water quantity and quality. The article was published in Utility Intelligence and Infrastructure. For more information on this topic, visit, WWA's Beetles, Water, and Climate webpage. (March 11, 2014)

Imtiaz Rangwala interviewed on CMIP3 vs. CMIP5

Many western water managers use the CMIP3 downscaled climate projections to plan for the effects of climate change on their water systems. Now that the CMIP5 projections have been released, water managers are wondering what this means for their investment in CMIP3. WWA's Imtiaz Rangwala recently presented on CMIP3 vs. CMIP5 in a webinar for Carpe Diem West, and a follow-up interview with Imtiaz on that topic was just posted in Confluence, Carpe Diem West's e-newsletter. (March 5, 2014)

Salt Lake City Utilities' Laura Briefer talks about working with WWA on climate study

Laura Briefer, a Water Resources Manager with the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, is interviewed about working with WWA on a recent climate study. She co-authored a study with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Western Water Assessment that investigated how rising temperatures could challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply. The study “Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply” was published in the journal Earth Interactions. (February 25, 2014)

New WWA study analyzes disincentives to water conservation

A new study by WWA's Doug Kenney found that, especially in western contexts, water utilities face multiple financial and other constraints that tend to reduce the appeal of conservation in long-term planning efforts. Kenney's paper, published in the Journal of the American Water Works Association, found two major types of disincentives—those related to supply reliability and those related to utility revenues. The paper recommends considering other financial models, such as the "decoupling" model used by some electricity utilities. (January 13, 2014)