Keith Musselman
Assistant Professor of Geography, College of Arts and Sciences • Fellow of INSTAAR • Faculty of Hydrologic Sciences • Hydrology; Snow Water Resources; Climate Change; Ecosystem Services • Ph.D. University of California Los Angeles, 2012
Physical Geography

Office: SEEC S237B

Research Interests:

The goal of my research is to evaluate the availability of freshwater in seasonally snow-covered environments, to explain the mechanisms by which water resources develop and respond to perturbations in natural and managed systems, and to study the response of systems to changes in water availability. Societal, ecological, and economical dependencies on the seasonal delivery of snowmelt runoff motivate my research that serves to improve predictive capacity and inform resource management practices. I work with ecologists, social scientists, biologists, climate scientists, and biogeochemists to support multidisciplinary measurements and modeling spanning continuums of water and energy gradients in cold regions. Headwaters serve as our mountain water towers and offer climate change refugia for critically important ecosystem services. I strive to integrate environmental and climate change issues with resource sustainability issues to deliver scientific knowledge on water resources that is of effective use and benefit to diverse societal interests. 

More Info:

Undergraduates interested in research experience or potential senior/honors projects should contact Dr. Musselman.

Potential graduate students are encouraged to contact Dr. Musselman in advance of applying to the department to discuss research project and funding opportunities. Dr. Musselman is happy to work with students to prepare external graduate or post-doctoral fellowship applications to support their research.

Recent Courses Taught:

  • Fall 2023 GEOG 3511 Introduction to Hydrology
  • Spring 2023 GEOG 4321/5321 Snow Hydrology
  • Spring 2022 GEOG 4321/5321 Snow Hydrology
  • Fall 2019 GEOG 1011 Landscapes and Water
  • Spring 2019 GEOG 1011 Landscapes and Water

Honors & Awards:

  • 2021 – Outstanding Mentor Award, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, University of Colorado, Boulder 
  • 2019 – Best Presentation Award, Western Snow Conference Annual Meeting, Reno, NV
  • 2010 – Best Student Poster Presentation, Eastern Snow Conference Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec
  • 2006 – Graduate College Fellowship Award (merit-based),University of Arizona
  • 2005 – Graduate College Fellowship Award (merit-based),University of Arizona
  • 2003 – David Hawley Undergraduate Research Scholarship,University of Vermont

Recent Publications

Blaskey, D., Koch, J. C., Gooseff, M., Newman, A. J., Cheng, Y., O'Donnell, J., & Musselman, K.N. (2023). Increasing Alaskan river discharge during the cold season is driven by recent warming. Environmental Research Letters. 10.1088/1748-9326/acb661

Cheng, Y., Musselman, K.N., Swenson, S., Lawrence, D., Hamman, J., Dagon, K., Kennedy, D. and Newman, A., Moving land models towards more actionable science: A novel application of the Community Terrestrial Systems Model across Alaska and the Yukon River Basin. Water Resources Research, p.e2022WR032204.

Seybold, E.C., Dwivedi, R., Musselman, K.N., Kincaid, D.W., Schroth, A.W., Classen, A.T., Perdrial, J.N. and Adair, E.C., 2022. Winter runoff events pose an unquantified continental-scale risk of high wintertime nutrient export. Environmental Research Letters17(10), p.104044.

Yang, K., Musselman, K.N., Rittger, K., Margulis, S. A., Painter, T. H., & Molotch, N. P. (2022). Combining ground-based and remotely sensed snow data in a linear regression model for real-time estimation of snow water equivalent. Advances in Water Resources160, 104075.

Wieder, W.R., Kennedy, D., Lehner, F., Musselman, K.N., Rodgers, K.B., Rosenbloom, N., Simpson, I.R. and Yamaguchi, R., 2022. Pervasive alterations to snow-dominated ecosystem functions under climate change.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences119(30), p.e2202393119.

Webb, R. W., K.N. Musselman, S. Ciafone, K.E. Hale, & N.P. Molotch (2022). Extending the vadose zone: Characterizing the role of snow for liquid water storage and transmission in streamflow generation. Hydrological Processes36(3), e14541.

Hale, K., A. 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 Studies39, p.100976.

Yang, K., K.N. Musselman, K. Rittger, S. Margulis, T.H. Painter, and N.P. Molotch, 2021. Combining ground-based and remotely sensed snow data in a linear regression model for real-time estimation of snow water equivalent. Advances in Water Resources, p.104075.

Musselman, K.N., N. Addor, J.A. Vano, and N.P. Molotch, (2021), Winter melt trends portend widespread declines in snow water resources. Nature Climate Change 11, 418–424.

Ikeda, K., R. Rasmussen, C. Liu, A. Newman, F. Chen, M. Barlage, E. Gutmann, J. Dudhia, A. Dai, C. Luce and K.N. Musselman (2021). Snowfall and snowpack in the Western US as captured by convection permitting climate simulations: current climate and pseudo global warming future climate. Climate Dynamics, pp.1-25.

Mendoza, P.A., T.E. Shaw, J. McPhee, K.N. Musselman, J.R. Revuelto, and S. MacDonell (2020), Seasonal and annual variability of snow depth fractal behavior in a sub-alpine catchment. Water Resources Research. 56(7), e2020WR027343

Uecher, T.M., S.D. Kaspari, K.N. Musselman and S.M. Skiles (2020), The post-wildfire impact of burn severity and age on black carbon snow deposition and implications for snow water resources, Cascade Range, Washington, USA. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 21(8), 1777-1792.

Henn, B., K.N. Musselman, L. Lestak, F.M. Ralph, and N.P. Molotch (2020), Extreme runoff generation from atmospheric river driven snowmelt during the 2017 Oroville Dam spillways incident. Geophysical Research Letters, 47(14).

Mendoza, P.A., K.N. Musselman, J.S. Deems, J.R. Revuelto, I. Lopez-Moreno, and J. McPhee (2020), Seasonal and annual variability of snow depth fractal behavior in a sub-alpine catchment. Water Resources Research, 55(7).

Girotto, M., Musselman, K.N., and Essery, R.L. (2020), Data Assimilation Improves Estimates of Climate-Sensitive Seasonal Snow. Current Climate Change Reports, 6, 81–94.

Updated April 2023