William Travis

  • William Travis
    University of Colorado Boulder

    William Travis

    Two sets of questions guide my current research and teaching:

    1. Disasters: Why do disasters occur even when we invest significant efforts to make systems and settlements safe? What differentiates extremes events from routine, and can we improve our response to low probability extremes?

    2. Climate Adaptation Science: How and when should managers of climate-sensitive resources change what they're doing in the face of climate change? How can we disentangle the signals of impacts and adaptation in a variable and changing climate?

    This research is conducted with support of grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to CU's Western Water Assessment; the National Science Foundation (NSF) program on Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, the USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Centers, and CU's Grand Challenge/Earth Lab in the Cooperative Institute for Research on Environmental Science (CIRES).


  • Dilling, Lisa, Meaghan E. Daly, William R. Travis, Andrea J. Ray, and Olga V. Wilhelmi. 2023. “The Role of Adaptive Capacity in Incremental and Transformative Adaptation in Three Large U.S. Urban Water Systems.” Global Environmental Change 79 (March): 102649.   https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2023.102649

  • Rangwala, Imtiaz, Wynne Moss, Jane Wolken, Renee Rondeau, Karen Newlon, John Guinotte, and William Riebsame Travis. 2021. “Uncertainty, Complexity and Constraints: How Do We Robustly Assess Biological Responses under a Rapidly Changing Climate?” Climate 9 (12): 177.   https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9120177

  • Clifford, K.R., W.R. Travis, and L.T. Nordgren (2020). A climate knowledges approach to climate services. Climate Services, Vol. 18, April.   doi: 10.1016/j.cliser.2020.100155

  • Clifford K.R., and W.R. Travis (2020). The New (Ab)Normal: Outliers, Everyday Exceptionality, and the Politics of Data Management in the Anthropocene. Annals of the American Association of Geographers.   doi: 10.1080/24694452.2020.1785836.

  • Clifford, K.R., L. Yung, W.R. Travis, R. Rondeau, B. Neely, I. Rangwala, N. Burkardt, and C. Wyborn (2020). Navigating Climate Adaptation on Public Lands: How Views on Ecosystem Change and Scale Interact with Management Approaches. Environmental Management.   doi: 10.1007/s00267-020-01336-y

  • Williams, T.M. and W.R. Travis (2019). Evaluating Alternative Drought Indicators in a Weather Index Insurance Instrument. Weather, Climate, and Society, 11 (3): 629–49.   doi: 10.1175/WCAS-D-18-0107.1

  • Averyt, K., J.D. Derner, L. Dilling, R. Guerrero, L. Joyce, S. McNeeley, E. McNie, J. Morisette, D. Ojima, R. O'Malley, D. Peck, A.J. Ray, M. Reeves, and W. Travis (2018). Regional Climate Response Collaboratives: Multi-Institutional Support for Climate Resilience. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 891-898.   doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0183.1

  • Shrum, T. R., W. R., Travis, T. M. Williams, and E. Lih (2018). Managing climate risks on the ranch with limited drought information. Climate Risk Management, February 22.   doi: 10.1016/j.crm.2018.01.002

  • Clifford, K.R. and W.R. Travis (2018). Knowing climate as a social-ecological-atmospheric construct. Global Environmental Change, Volume 49, pp. 1–9.   doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.12.007

  • Dilling, L., M.E. Daly, D.A. Kenney, R. Klein, K. Miller, A.J. Ray, W.R. Travis, and O. Wilhelmi (2018). Drought in urban water systems: Learning lessons for climate adaptive capacity. Climate Risk Management.   doi: 10.1016/j.crm.2018.11.001

  • Derner, J., D. Briske, M. Reeves, T. Brown-Brandl, M. Meehan, D. Blumenthal, W. Travis, D. Augustine, H. Wilmer, D. Scasta, J. Hendrickson, J. Volesky, L. Edwards, D. Peck (2017). Vulnerability of grazing and confined livestock in the Northern Great Plains to projected mid- and late-twenty-first century climate. Climatic Change,   doi: 10.1007/s10584-017-2029-6

  • McCurdy, A.D. and W.R. Travis (2017). Simulated climate adaptation in storm-water systems: Evaluating the efficiency of within-system flexibility. Climate Risk Management,   doi: 10.1016/j.crm.2017.12.002

  • McCurdy, A.D. and W.R. Travis (2017). Simulated climate adaptation in stormwater systems: Evaluating the efficiency of adaptation strategies. Environment Systems and Decisions, 1-16, February 13,   doi: 10.1007/s10669-017-9631-z

  • Dilling, L., M. E. Daly, W. R. Travis, O. V. Wilhelmi, and R. A. Klein (2015). The dynamics of vulnerability: Why adapting to climate variability will not always prepare us for climate change. WIREs Climate Change, Volume 6, Issue 4, Pages 413-425   doi: 10.1002/wcc.341

  • Huisenga, M. T. and W. R. Travis (2015). Climate variability and the sensitivity of downstream temperature to treated wastewater discharge: A simulation analysis. Environment Systems and Decisions, 35: (1) 11-21   doi.org/10.1007/s10669-014-9532-3

  • Travis, W. R. (2014). Weather and climate extremes: Pacemakers of adaptation?, Weather and Climate Extremes, Vol. 5-6, 29-39, September.   doi: 10.1016/j.wace.2014.08.001
  • Travis, W. R. and B. Bates (2014). What is climate risk management?, Climate Risk Management, Vol. 1, 1-4,   doi: 10.1016/j.crm.2014.02.003

  • Overpeck, J., G. Garfin, A. Jardine, D. E. Busch, D. Cayan, M. Dettinger, E. Fleishman, A. Gershunov, G. MacDonald, K. T. Redmond, W. R. Travis, and B. Udall (2013). Summary for Decision Makers. In Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment, edited by G. Garfin, A. Jardine, R. Merideth, M. Black, and S. LeRoy, pp. 1–20. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press.   https://swcarr.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/ACCSWUS_Ch1.pdf
  • Theobald, D. M., W. R. Travis, M. A. Drummond, and E. S. Gordon (2013). The Changing Southwest. In Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment, edited by G. Garfin, A. Jardine, R. Merideth, M. Black, and S. LeRoy, 37–55. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press.   https://swcarr.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/ACCSWUS_Ch3.pdf
  • Travis, W. R., and Z. Johnson. (2013). Tracking Socioeconomic Impacts of Drought with Rapid Analytics and Dashboards. Western Water Assessment White Paper. Tracking Socioeconomic Impacts of Drought with Rapid Analytics and Dashboards.pdf  
  • Travis, W. R. (2013). Design of a severe climate change early warning system. Weather and Climate Extremes, October 30,   doi: 10.1016/j.wace.2013.10.006
  • Travis, W. R., and M. T. Huisenga (2013). The effect of rate of change, variability, and extreme events on the pace of adaptation to a changing climate. Climatic Change, September.   https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0876-3

  • Travis, W. (2003). The Changing Geography: Growth, Land Use, and Water in the Interior West. In Water and Climate in the Western United States, W. J. Lewis, ed. Boulder, CO, University Press of Colorado.   

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