Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)
Sep 30, 2022, 3:35 PM
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Snow is the primary source of water and streamflow in western North America and supports the water supply for more than one billion people globally. In mountainous regions, accumulated snow extends the downstream delivery of meltwater through the spring and summer when human and ecosystem demands are greatest. It is well established that climate change is expected to shift melt earlier and reduce snow water resources with broad impacts on ecosystem productivity, winter flood risk, groundwater recharge, agriculture and food security, and wildfire hazard. In this talk, I present empirical and model-based evidence of ongoing and projected change in snow water resources in western North America. These changes are disproportionately affecting northern Indigenous communities. I introduce a new project working to increase collective understanding of the impacts of climate change on rivers, fish, and Indigenous communities in Alaska and western Canada. Collaboration with Tribal and First Nation communities, community-based science networks, and an Advisory Council guide the science by facilitating monitoring and informing modeling decisions as part of this project. As cold regions warm and their rivers change, the impacts on people, fisheries, and winter travel routes are unknown. Synthesizing numerous ongoing projects, I will discuss methods by which improved understanding of the possible future changes in mountain hydrology, societal impacts, and potential adaptation strategies are being assessed through close partnership among communities, decision-makers, and scientists from diverse fields of study.
Dr. Keith Musselman is a research associate at INSTAAR. He is a hydrologist who conducts research on land-water-atmosphere interactions including snow, runoff production, forest hydrology, and remote sensing. He has 19 years of fieldwork and numerical modeling experience with a primary focus on western North America. Keith’s work assesses climate change impacts on freshwater availability, streamflow, and flood risk across a spectrum of scale. Keith holds a B.S. in Geology from the University of Vermont, an M.S. in Hydrology and Water Resources from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from UCLA. As a postdoc, he worked for the University of Saskatchewan in Alberta, Canada, on the topics of forest hydrology and land cover change. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 2015-2017 where he helped to advance the capability of hydrologic models to simulate cold region processes. Now at the University of Colorado Boulder, Keith leads multiple NSF-sponsored ‘Big Ideas’ projects including a team of >30 people to assess climate impacts on Indigenous communities in Alaska and the Yukon using a co-production framework. Keith has authored over 30 publications including recent high-profile papers on snowmelt and flood risk in current and future climates.