EAS Seminar Series: Keith Musselman


The EAS Department Seminar Series will be held virtually for the Spring of 2021.


Speaker: Keith Musselman

Research Associate, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder

Talk Title: Mountains of change: models, measurements, theory and Indigenous perspectives of climate change impacts in headwater basins


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. Strong collaboration with Tribal and First Nation communities, community-based science networks, and environmental professionals guide the science and facilitate monitoring and modeling as part of this project.  As cold regions warm and their rivers change, the impacts on people, fisheries, and winter travel routes are unknown. I 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 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 18 years of fieldwork and numerical modeling experience across western North America. His work has been focused on the assessment of climate change and land cover 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 in Alberta, Canada, on the topics of forest hydrology and land cover change. Since 2015, his research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and most recently at the University of Colorado Boulder has helped to advance the capability of hydrologic models to simulate cold region processes. He is the PI on a Navigating the New Arctic project to assess climate impacts on Indigenous communities in Alaska and the Yukon using co-production. Keith has authored over 25 publications including recent high-profile papers on snowmelt and flood risk in current and future climates.

Seminars are loosely organized around the theme of “Hazards.”