Western Water Assessment RISA welcomes new director

Lisa Dilling, assistant professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the new director of the Western Water Assessment (WWA), an applied research program that addresses societal vulnerabilities related to climate, particularly in the area of water resources.

WWA is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at  CU-Boulder, and is funded primarily by NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program.

Dilling is also a CIRES Fellow and a member of CIRES’ Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at CU-Boulder. Her research focuses on decision making, the use of information and science policies related to climate change, adaptation, geoengineering and carbon management. Her current projects examine drought in urban water systems, water governance and climate change, municipal adaptation to hazards, decision making in public lands management, and knowledge for adaptation in Tanzania.  Dilling has authored numerous articles and is a co-editor of the book Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating climate change and facilitating social change from Cambridge University Press.

WWA is based in Boulder but works across the Intermountain West in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Its mission is to identify and characterize regional vulnerabilities to and impacts of climate variability and change, and to develop information, products, and processes to assist decision makers throughout the Intermountain West. For example, WWA staff are producing a Climate Change in Colorado report for the state of Colorado; helped author the National Climate Assessment released this spring; and are conducting work to understand how emergency managers and others use (or do not use) NOAA streamflow forecasts.

Kristen Averyt, WWA’s previous director, will now focus on her position as Associate Director for Science at CIRES, and she will continue to conduct research and lead projects for the WWA.




Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2017, the United States experienced a record-tying 16 climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 362 lives, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted, costing more than $306 billion. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.


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