Karletta Chief

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist - Soil, Water, and Environmental Science

Project Director - CCASS and Haury Native Nations Climate Adaptation Program


Selected Adaptation Programs/Projects

Dr. Chief's research focuses on how indigenous communities will be affected by climate change. She collaborates with an interdisciplinary group of scientists including hydrologists, system dynamic modelers, and social scientists to determine how hydrological models can be improved to identify and mitigate risks to these vulnerable populations.

Selected Publications

  • (lead author) Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup (CTKW). 2014. Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives. http://climatetkw.wordpress.com/
  • Chief, K., A.M. Meadow, K. White. 2016. Engaging Southwestern Tribes in sustainable water resources topics and management. Water, 8: 350. http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/8/8/350
  • Gautam, M.R., K. Chief, and W.J. Smith, Jr. 2013. Climate change in arid lands and Native American socioeconomic vulnerability: The case of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Climatic Change, 120:585–599. DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0737-0
  • Cozzetto, K., K. Chief, K. Dittmer, M. Brubaker, R. Gough, K. Souza, F. Ettawageshik, S. Wotkyns, S. Opitz-Stapleton, S. Duren, and P. Chavan. 2013. Climate change impacts on the water resources of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. Climatic Change, DOI:10.1007/s10584-013-0852-y
  • Smith Jr., W.J., Z. Liu, A.S. Safi, and K. Chief. 2014. Climate change perception, observation and policy support in rural Nevada: A comparative analysis of Native Amerians, non-Native ranchers and farmers and mainstream America. Environmental Science & Policy, 42: 101-122. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2014.03.007
  • Shamir, E., S.B. Megdal, C. Carrillo, Cl.L. Castro, H.I. Chang, K. Chief, F.E. Corkhill, S. Eden, K.P. Georgakakos, K.M. Nelson, and J. Prietto. 2015. Climate change and water resources management in the Upper Santa Cruz River, Arizona. J. Hydology, 521: 18-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.11.062
  • Maldonado, J., T.M. Bull Bennett, K. Chief, P. Cochran, K. Cozzetto, et al. 2015. Engagement with indigenous peoples and honoring traditional knowledge systems. Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1535-7

Employment Highlights

  • Assistant Professor, University of Arizona, Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences, Tucson, AZ, 2011−present
  • Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Desert Research Institute (DRI), Division of Hydrologic Sciences, 2007−2011
  • Hydrologist, Brown and Caldwell Consulting, Division of Water Resources, Tucson, Arizona, 2007
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Univ. of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, 2003−2007
  • Graduate Assistant, Univ. of Arizona Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), 2002
  • Research Intern, Navajo Nation, Department of Water Resources, 2002
  • Environmental Engineering Intern, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C., 1999


  • Ph.D., Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, 2007
  • M.S, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2000
  • B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 1998

Expertise Area

  • Tribal Adaptation and Science Support
  • Water Conservation, Supply, and Demand
  • Fire Management
  • Human Dimensions of Climate Change
  • Natural Resources Management