Brad Udall

Senior Water & Climate Research Scientist, Colorado Water Institute

Colorado State University

Brad Udall

Contact Information

Phone: (720) 984-2723

Research Interests & Background

Brad Udall has an extensive background in water and climate policy issues, including as Director of the Western Water Assessment (University of Colorado), as the first Director of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment (University of Colorado), and currently as the first senior water and climate research scientist/scholar at the Colorado Water Institute (Colorado State University).  He has written extensively on the impacts of climate change on water resources in the American West. He was the lead author of the water sector chapter of the Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009), a publication of the United States Global Change Research Program, and was an author of the Western Water Assessment’s Climate Change in Colorado Report. He was formerly a consulting engineer and the managing partner at Hydrosphere Resource Consultants.  The California Department of Water Resources awarded him its Climate Science Service Award for his work in facilitating interactions between water managers and scientists, and the Department of Interior bestowed the Partner in Conservation Award on the Western Water Assessment for his work on the groundbreaking 2007 EIS on Colorado River shortages and coordinated reservoir operations. He has an engineering degree from Stanford and an MBA from Colorado State University.

Selected Colorado River Publications & Presentations


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Overpeck, J.T. and B. Udall. 2021. Climate Change and the aridifaiction of North America. PNAS.

Fleck, J., and B. Udall. 2021. "Managing Colorado River Risk." Science, 372:6545 p. 1006.  DOI: 10.1126/science.abj5498

Salehabadi, H., D. Tarboton, E. Kuhn, B. Udall, K. Wheeler, D. Rosenberg, S. Gocking, J.C. Schmidt. 2020. The Future Hydrology of the Colorado River Basin.  August 31.  Center for Colorado River Studies.

Taylor, P.L., K. MacIlroy, R. Waskom, P.E. Cabot, M. Smith, A. Schempp, and B. Udall.  2019. “Every ditch is different: Barriers and opportunities for collaboration for agricultural water conservation and security in the Colorado River Basin.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 74:3, May/June; doi:10.2489/jswc.74.3.281

Xiao, M., B. Udall, and D.P. Lettenmaier.  2018.  “On the causes of declining Colorado River streamflows.”  Water Resources Research, doi: 10.1029/2018WR023153,

Grafton, R.Q., J. Williams, C.J. Perry, F. Molle, C. Ringler, P. Steduto, B. Udall, S.A. Wheeler, Y. Wang, D. Garrick, and R.G. Allen.  2018. “The paradox of irrigation efficiency.”  Science.  August 24.  Volume 361, Issue 6404, pages 748-750. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat9314.

Udall, B., and J. Overpeck.  2017.  “The 21st Century Colorado River Hot Drought and Implications for the Future.”  Water Resources Research.  February 17.  10.1002/2016WR019638,

J.S. Deems, T.H. Painter, J.J. Barsugli, J. Belnap, and B. Udall.  2013. Combined impacts of current and future dust deposition and regional warming on Colorado River Basin snow dynamics hydrology.  Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 05/2013; 10(5):6237-6275.

Vano, J.A., B. Udall, D.R. Cayan, J.T. Overpeck, L.D. Brekke, T. Das, H.C. Hartmann, H. G. Hidalgo, M. Hoerling, G.J. McCabe, K. Morino, R.S. Webb, K. Werner, and D.P. Lettenmaier.  2013.  Understanding Uncertainties in Future Colorado River Streamflow.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 95, 59-78, 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-0228.1.

Painter, T.H., J.S. Deems, J. Belnap, A.F. Hamlet, C.C. Landry, and B. Udall.  2010.  Response of Colorado River runoff to dust radiative forcing in snow.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(40):17125-17130.

Kenney, Doug, Andrea Ray, Ben Harding, Roger Pulwarty, and Brad Udall.  2010.  Rethinking Vulnerability on the Colorado River.  Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 144:5-10, March.

B. Rajagopalan, K. Nowak, J. Prairie, M. Hoerling, B. Harding, J. Barsugli, A. Ray, and B. Udall. 2009.  Water supply risk on the Colorado River: Can management mitigate? Water Resources Research 45(8).


“Summary of the latest Colorado River climate science” at the 286th meeting of the Upper Colorado River Commission.  Las Vegas, NV; December 11, 2019.

“Water in the West: Challenges and Solutions” at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists.  Fort Collins, CO; October 12, 2019.

“Future of the Colorado River in a Changing Climate” for the High Country Conservation Center.  Frisco, CO; September 18, 2019.

“When Hydrology and Management Collide: How Lake Powell Got Hammered” at the Annual Seminar of the Colorado River District.  Grand Junction, CO; September 18, 2019.

“Management: When Hydrology and Management Collide” at the 40th Annual Summer Water Conference of the Getches-Wilkinson Center (Charting a Better Course for the Colorado River: Identifying the Data and Concepts to Shape the Interim Guidelines Renegotiation).  Boulder, CO; June 6, 2019.

“Perspectives on the State of Policy” at the Desert Waters International Symposium.  Tucson, AZ; April 2, 2019.

“State of Water Supply Reliability in the 21st Century” testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.  Washington, D.C.; February 26, 2019.

“Science to Assist with the 2020-2026 Colorado River Interim Guidelines Renegotiations” at the conference of the American Geophysical Union.  Washington, D.C.: December 14, 2018.

“How Refusal to Accept Inconvenient Science Contributed to the Over-Development of the Colorado River” at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union.  Washington, D.C.: December 10, 2018.

“Water Security for a Colorado River Basin Provisioning Watershed” at the Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum.  Grand Junction, CO; November 7, 2018.

“The Future of the Colorado River” at the symposium of the Center for Colorado River Studies, Utah State University on October 13, 2018.  Moab, UT.

“2017 Extreme Events” at the Water Utility Climate Alliance.  St. Simons, GA; October 18, 2017.

“Feasible Alternatives to Permanent Fallowing in the Colorado River Basin,” at the Universities Council on Water Resources annual conference.  Fort Collins, CO; June, 13, 2017.

“Hot Drought & Our Climate Future” (keynote address) at the 24th Annual Summit State of the River meeting.  Silverthorne, CO; May 4, 2017

“Western Water 1850 to 2050: From Bounty and Battles, to Scarcity and Sharing” at the Wallace Stegner Center 22nd Annual Symposium – Water in the West: Exploring Untapped Solutions. Salt Lake City, UT; March 23, 2017.

"Demand Management in Agriculture: Potential and limitations of alternative transfer methods" at the Upper Colorado River Basin Forum.  Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO; November 3, 2016.

“Is a Sustainable Colorado River Possible?”  Law and the Colorado River: Cooperation in the Face of Shortage.  CLE International. Las Vegas, NV.  February 5, 2016.

“A Pivotal and Promising Year for Climate Change Solutions.”  Water Management Strategies for Addressing Long-Term Drought and Climate Uncertainty. Salt Lake City, UT; October 29, 2015.

Presenter at the Colorado River Symposium of the Water Education Foundation, September 17-18, 2015.