Ben Livneh

  • Ben Livneh
    University of Colorado Boulder

    Ben Livneh

    Director and Principal Investigator

    Ben Livneh grew up in Ontario Canada. He earned his first two Civil Engineering degrees at the University of Western Ontario. He earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Washington under the guidance of Dennis P. Lettenmaier, where he worked on a wide range of problems related to large-scale computational hydrology. His dissertation focused on the development of the Unified Land Model (ULM)--a merger of two operational models: the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting Model and the Noah Land Surface Model. During his time in Seattle, Ben also taught several courses at Seattle University. He now leads a research group in the department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering and he is also a Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) fellow. Professor Livneh's research group addresses physical hydrology problems across multiple scales. Major research themes include physically-based hydrologic model development, land-cover/land-use change, snow hydrology, and hydroclimatology. The group is focused on applying models in innovative ways that integrate remote sensing and in situ observations to understand how changes in climate and land cover will affect water availability at the land surface. Professor Livneh frequently interacts with scientists at the Western Water Assessment, with the departments of Geography, INSTAAR, and ATOC.


  • Bjarke, N.R., Livneh, B., Barsugli, J. J., Pendergrass, A.G., and Small, E.E. (2023) Evaluating large-storm dominance in high-resolution GCMs and observation across the western United States. Earth’s Future. (In-Review)   
  • Bjarke, N.R., Livneh, B., and Barsugli, J. J. (2023) Storylines for global hydrologic drought within CMIP6. Earth’s Future. (In-Review)   

  • Bjarke, Nels, Joseph Barsugli, and Ben Livneh. 2023. “Ensemble of CMIP6 Derived Reference and Potential Evapotranspiration with Radiative and Advective Components.” Scientific Data 10 (1): 417.

  • Pokhrel, Yadu, Ahmed Elkouk, Lifeng Luo, Liz Payton, Ben Livneh, and Yifan Cheng. 2023. “Impact of Model Parameters on Runoff Sensitivities in the Community Land Model: A Study on the Upper Colorado River Basin.” EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10644.

  • Knowles, John F., Nels R. Bjarke, Andrew M. Badger, Max Berkelhammer, Joel A. Biederman, Peter D. Blanken, Mario Bretfeld, et al. 2023. “Bark Beetle Impacts on Forest Evapotranspiration and Its Partitioning.” Science of The Total Environment 880 (July): 163260.

  • Yao, Fangfang, Ben Livneh, Balaji Rajagopalan, Jida Wang, Jean-François Crétaux, Yoshihide Wada, and Muriel Berge-Nguyen. 2023. “Satellites Reveal Widespread Decline in Global Lake Water Storage.” Science 380 (6646): 743–49.

  • Hale, Katherine E., Keith S. Jennings, Keith N. Musselman, Ben Livneh, and Noah P. Molotch. 2023. “Recent Decreases in Snow Water Storage in Western North America.” Communications Earth & Environment 4 (1): 170.

  • Heldmyer, Aaron J., Nels R. Bjarke, and Ben Livneh. 2023. “A 21st‐Century Perspective on Snow Drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin.” JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 59 (2): 396–415.

  • Culler, Elsa S., Ben Livneh, Balaji Rajagopalan, and Kristy F. Tiampo. 2023. “A Data-Driven Evaluation of Post-Fire Landslide Susceptibility.” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 23 (4): 1631–52.

  • Bishay, Kaitlyn, Nels R. Bjarke, Parthkumar Modi, Justin M. Pflug, and Ben Livneh. 2023. “Can Remotely Sensed Snow Disappearance Explain Seasonal Water Supply?” Water 15 (6): 1147.

  • Brucker, Carli P., Ben Livneh, J. Toby Minear, and Fernando L. Rosario-Ortiz. 2022. “A Review of Simulation Experiment Techniques Used to Analyze Wildfire Effects on Water Quality and Supply.” Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 24 (8): 1110–32.

  • Williams, A.P., B. Livneh, K.A. McKinnon, W.D. Hansen, J.S. Mankin, B.I. Cook, J.E. Smerdon, A.M. Varuolo-Clarke, N.R. Bjarke, C.S. Juang, and D.P. Lettenmaier, 2022: Growing impact of wildfire on western United States water supply, Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, 119(10) e2114069119.

  • Hale, K.E., A.N. Wlostowski, A.M. Badger, K.N. Musselman, B. Livneh, and N.P. Molotch. 2022. “Modeling Streamflow Sensitivity to Climate Warming and Surface Water Inputs in a Montane Catchment.” Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies 39 (February): 100976.

  • Heldmyer, Aaron, Ben Livneh, James McCreight, Laura Read, Joseph Kasprzyk, and Toby Minear. 2022. “Evaluation of a New Observationally Based Channel Parameterization for the National Water Model.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 26 (23): 6121–36.

  • Holland, Melanie, Chris Thomas, Ben Livneh, Stephanie Tatge, Alex Johnson, and Evan Thomas. 2022. “Development and Validation of an In Situ Groundwater Abstraction Sensor Network, Hydrologic Statistical Model, and Blockchain Trading Platform: A Demonstration in Solano County, California.” ACS ES&T Water 2 (12): 2345–58.

  • Modi, Parthkumar A., Eric E. Small, Joseph Kasprzyk, and Ben Livneh. 2022. “Investigating the Role of Snow Water Equivalent on Streamflow Predictability during Drought.” Journal of Hydrometeorology 23 (10): 1607–25.

  • Wobus, Cameron, Eric Small, Jared C. Carbone, Parthkumar Modi, Hannah Kamen, William Szafranski, and Ben Livneh. 2022. “Water Allocation, Return Flows, and Economic Value in Water-Scarce Environments: Results from a Coupled Natural-Human System Model.” Water 14 (20): 3280.

  • Bjarke, N.R., B. Livneh, S. Elmendorf, N. Molotch, E. Hinckley, J. Morse, N. Emery, P. Johnson, and K. Suding, 2021: Catchment scale observations at the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research site, Hydrological Processes.

  • Pierce, D. W., L. Su, D. R. Cayan, M.D. Risser, B. Livneh, and D.P. Lettenmaier, 2021: An extreme-preserving long-term gridded daily precipitation data set for the conterminous United States, Journal of Hydrometeorology, 22(7), 1883-1895.

  • Badger, *A.M., N.R. Bjarke, N. Molotch, and B. Livneh, 2021: The sensitivity of runoff generation to spatial snowpack uniformity in an alpine watershed: Green Lakes Valley, Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research Station, Hydrological Processes, e14331.

  • Heldmyer, A.J., B. Livneh, B. Rajagopalan, and N. Molotch, 2021: Investigating the Relationship Between Peak Snow-Water Equivalent and Snow Timing Indices in the Western U.S. and Alaska, Water Resources Research, 57, e2020WR029395.

  • Culler, E.S., *A.M. Badger, J.T. Minear, K.F. Tiampo, S. Zeigler, and B. Livneh, 2021: A Multi-sensor Evaluation of Precipitation Uncertainty for Landslide-triggering Storm Events, Hydrological Processes, 35(7), e14260.

  • Abolafia-Rosenzweig, R., M. Pan, J.L. Zeng, and B. Livneh (2021). A remotely sensed ensemble to observe the terrestrial water budget over major global river basins, Remote Sensing of Environment, 252, 112191.

  • Culler, Elsa S., Ben Livneh, Balaji Rajagopalan, and Kristy F. Tiampo (2021). A Data-Driven Evaluation of Post-Fire Landslide Susceptibility. Preprint. Landslides and Debris Flows Hazards.

  • Livneh, Ben, and A.M. Badger (2020). Drought less predictable under declining future snowpack. Nature Climate Change, 10, 452–458.   doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0754-8

  • Barsugli, J.J., A.J. Ray, B. Livneh, C.F. Dewes, A. Heldmyer, I. Rangwala, J.M. Guinotte, and S. Torbit (2020). Projections of Mountain Snowpack Loss for Wolverine Denning Elevations in the Rocky Mountains. Earth's Future.   doi: 10.1029/2020EF001537

  • Steinberg, D., B.K. Mignone, J. Macknick, Y. Sun, K. Eurek, Badger, A.M., B. Livneh, and K.B. Averyt, (2020). Decomposing supply-side and demand-side impacts of climate change on the U.S. electricity system through 2050. Climatic Change.   doi: 10.1007/s10584-019-02506-6

  • Williams, A.P., E.R. Cook, J.E. Smerdon, B.I. Cook, R. Seager, J.T. Abatzoglou, K. Bolles, S.H. Baek, A. Badger, and B. Livneh (2020). Large contribution from anthropogenic warming to an emerging North American megadrought. Science, 368(6488), 314-318.   doi: 10.1126/science.aaz9600

  • Hoerling, M., J. Barsugli, B. Livneh, J. Eischeid, X. Quan, and A. Badger (2019). Causes for the Century-Long Decline in Colorado River Flow. Journal of Climate, 32 (23): 8181–8203.   doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0207.1

  • Kumar, S., M.N. Newman, Y. Wang Y., and B. Livneh (2019). Potential Reemergence of Seasonal Soil Moisture Anomalies in North America, Journal of Climate, 32(8).   doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0540.1

  • Badger, A.M., B. Livneh, Hoerling, M.P., and J.K. Eischeid (2018). Understanding the 2011 Upper Missouri River Basin floods in the context of a changing climate. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 19, 110-123.   doi: 10.1016/j.ejrh.2018.08.004

  • Friedrich, K., R. Grossman, J. Huntington, P. Blanken, J. Lenters, K. Holman, D. Gochis, B. Livneh, J. Prairie, E. Skeie, N. Healey, K. Dahm, C. Pearson, T. Finnessey, S. Hook, and T. Kowalski (2018). Reservoir Evaporation in the Western United States: Current Science, Challenges, and Future Needs. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99(1), 167-187.   doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00224.1

  • Hein C.J., S. Gopalakrishnan, J.E. Ten Hoeve, B. Livneh, H.D. Adams, E.L. Marino, and S.C. Weiler (2018). Overcoming Early Career Barriers to Interdisciplinary Climate Change Research. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Climate Change, 9(5) e530.   doi: 10.1002/wcc.530

  • Jennings, K.S., T. Winchell, B. Livneh, and N.P. Molotch (2018). Spatial variation of the rain-snow temperature threshold across the Northern Hemisphere. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1148.   doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03629-7

  • Small, E.E., A.M. Badger., R. Abolafia-Rosenzweig, and B. Livneh (2018). Estimating soil evaporation using drying rates determined from satellite-based soil moisture records. Remote Sensing, 10(12), 1945.   doi: 10.3390/rs10121945

  • Buma, B. and B. Livneh (2017). Key landscape and biotic indicators of watersheds sensitivity to forest disturbance identified using remote sensing and historical hydrography data. Environmental Research Letters, 12(7), 074028,   doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa7091

  • Hallar, A.G., N.P. Molotch, J. Hand, B. Livneh, I.B. McCubbin, R. Petersen, J. Michalsky, and D. Lowenthal (2017). Impacts of Increasing Aridity and Wildfires on Aerosol Loading in the Intermountain Western U.S., Environmental Research Letters, 12(1), 014006,   doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa510a

  • Houle, E.S., B. Livneh, and J.R. Kasprzyk (2017). Exploring Snow Model Parameter Sensitivity Using Sobol' Variance Decomposition. Environmental Model and Software, 89, 144–158,   doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.11.024
  • Raseman, W.J., J.R. Kasprzyk, F.L. Rosario-Ortiz, J.R. Stewart, and B. Livneh (2017). Emerging Investigators Series: A Critical Review of Decision Support Systems for Water Treatment: Making the Case for Incorporating Climate Change and Climate Extremes. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 3 (1): 18–36,   doi: 10.1039/C6EW00121A

  • Stewart, J.S., B. Livneh, J.R. Kasprzyk, J.T. Minear, B. Rajagopalan, and W.J. Raseman (2017). A multi-algorithm approach to land surface modeling of suspended sediment in the Colorado Front Range. Journal of Advances in Models Earth Systems, 9(7), 2526-2544,   doi: 10.1002/2017MS001120

  • Marlier, M.E., M. Xiao, R. Engel, B. Livneh, J.T. Abatsoglou, and D.P. Lettenmaier (2017). The 2015 drought in Washington State: A harbinger of things to come?, Environmental Research Letters, 12 114008,   doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa8fde

  • Barnhart, T., N. P. Molotch, B. Livneh, A. Harpold, J. Knowles, and D. Schneider (2016). Snowmelt rate dictates streamflow. Geophysical Research Letters, 43(15): 8006-8016   doi: 10.1002/2016GL069690

  • Cheng L., M.P. Hoerling, A. AghaKouchak, B. Livneh, and X-W. Qian (2016). How Has Human-Induced Climate Change Affected California Drought Risk?, Journal of Climate, 29, 111–120   doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0260.1
  • Raleigh, M.S., B. Livneh, K. Lapo, and J.D. Lundquist (2016). How does availability of meteorological forcing data impact physically-based snowpack simulations? Journal of Hydrometeorology, 17, 99-120   doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-14-0235.1

  • Livneh B. and M.P. Hoerling (2016). The Physics of Drought in the U.S. Central Great Plains. Journal of Climate, Volume 29, Issue 18, Pages 6783-6804   doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0697.1

  • Livneh, B., J.S. Deems, B. Buma, J.J. Barsugli, D. Schneider, N.P. Molotch, K. Wolter, and C.A. Wessman (2015). Catchment response to bark beetle outbreak and dust-on-snow in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Journal of Hydrology, 523, 196-210   doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.01.039

  • Livneh B., R. Kumar, and L. Samaniego (2015). Influence of Soil Textural Properties on Hydrologic Fluxes in the Mississippi River Basin. Hydrological Processes, Volume 29, Issue 21, 4638–4655   doi: 10.1002/hyp.10601

  • Pal, I., E. Towler, and B. Livneh (2015). Advancing the Science of Low Flows in a Changing Climate. EOS   doi:10.1029/2015EO033875

  • Buma B. and B. Livneh (2015). Potential effects of forest disturbances and management on water resources in a warmer climate. Forest Science, Volume 61, Issue 5, Pages 895–903   doi: 10.5849/forsci.14-164.

  • Livneh B., T.J. Bohn, D.S. Pierce, F. Munoz-Ariola, B. Nijssen, R. Vose, D. Cayan, and L.D. Brekke (2015). A spatially comprehensive, hydrometeorological data set for Mexico, the U.S., and southern Canada 1950-2013, Nature Scientific Data, 2, 150042   doi: 10.1038/sdata.2015.42

  • Lundquist J., M. Hughes, B. Henn, E. D. Gutmann, B. Livneh, J. Dozier, and P. Neiman (2014). High-elevation precipitation patterns: using snow measurements to diagnose when and why gridded datasets succeed or fail across the Sierra Nevada. California Journal of Hydrometeorology, January.

  • Chen, F., M. Barlage, M. Tewari, R. Rasmussen, J. M. Jin, D. Lettenmaier, B. Livneh, C. Y. Lin, G. Miguez-Macho, G. Y. Niu, L. J. Wen, and Z. L. Yang (2014). Modeling seasonal snowpack evolution in the complex terrain and forested Colorado Headwaters region: A model intercomparison study. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 119 (24) 13795-13819

  • Gordon, E., Pugh, E., and B. Livneh (2014). Bark Beetles: Cause for Concern in Snowy Western Watersheds? Utility Intelligence & Infrastructure   

  • Kumar, S. V., C. D. Peters-Lidard, D. Mocko, R. Reichle, Y. Q. Liu, K. R. Arsenault, Y. L. Xia, M. Ek, G. Riggs, B. Livneh, and M. Cosh (2014). Assimilation of Remotely Sensed Soil Moisture and Snow Depth Retrievals for Drought Estimation. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 15 (6) 2446-2469   doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-13-0132.1

  • Livneh, B., J. S. Deems, D. Schneider, J. J. Barsugli, and N. P. Molotch (2014). Filling in the gaps: Inferring spatially distributed precipitation from gauge observations over complex terrain. Water Resources Research, 50 (11) 8589-8610   doi: 10.1002/2014WR015442

  • Livneh, B., E. Marino and J. E. Ten Hoeve (2014). Emerging Ideas and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Change. Eos Trans DISCCRS VIII Interdisciplinary Climate Change Research Symposium, 95 (7)   doi: 10.1002/2014EO070006

  • Lukas, J., Wolter, K., Mahoney, K., Barsugli, J., Doesken, N., Ryan, W., Rangwala, I., Livneh, B., Gordon, E., Hoerling, M., and G. Kiladis (2013). Severe Flooding on the Colorado Front Range, September 2013: A Preliminary Assessment. Western Water Assessment. Severe Flooding on the Colorado Front Range.pdf  

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