Kathy Jacobs

Director - Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions
Professor - Environmental Science (ENVS)

Selected programs/projects:

  • Over the past three years, Jacobs has been working with an array of stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin to help re-envision the management of the River. The Colorado River Conversations have led to new relationships between the environmental community, states, tribes and water managers. The UArizona team recently hosted a series of scenario planning events focused on how the intersection of extreme climate, economic and other events might affect the River, and are developing a guidance document on understanding how climate change might affect the magnitude and frequency of future extreme events. CCASS is also working directly with the US Bureau of Reclamation on stakeholder engagement strategies associated with the re-negotiation of the 2007 Interim Guidelines for managing the River.
  • CCASS and the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR) are implementing a program at UArizona designed to work directly with the greater Tucson community on applied climate solutions, while also building shared environmental leadership projects with regional, state, and national partners. This project is a component of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), which consists of 22 leading North American research universities working to expand commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to working with community partners to encourage climate-related resilience. 
  • Jacobs is currently working on a project to assess the risks of climate change on the business functions of some of the largest water utilities in the country, including Denver Water and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The project is funded by the Water Utility Climate Alliance and the Water Research Foundation.
  • Jacobs is also a member of many boards and advisory committees, most notably, she is a member of the National Academies Board on Environmental Change and Society, a Trustee of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Chair of the External Advisory Board for the Western Water Assessment, and a member of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy External Advisory Board.

Selected publications:

  • Gupta, N., and K. Jacobs, E. Halper, L. Bearup, B. Kennett, W. Wilson (2022). Lower Santa Cruz River Basin Study: Science Summary of Climate and Surface Water Modeling. University of Arizona, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
  • Kuhn, E., and K.L. Jacobs (2022). Science and Apportionment: Alternative Futures for the Colorado River System in Cornerstone at the Confluence: Navigating the Colorado River Compact’s Next Century (J. Robison, ed). University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.
  • McCoy, A.L., K.L. Jacobs, J.A. Vano, J.K. Wilson, S. Martin, A.G. Pendergrass, R. Cifelli (2022). The Press and Pulse of Climate Change: Extreme Events in the Colorado River Basin. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1752-1688.13021.
  • Jacobs, K., J. Holway, E. Hanak, R. Quay, F. Sternlieb, and B. Udall. 2022. Impacts and Opportunities at the Climate–Land Use–Energy–Water  Interface: An Urgent Call for Dialogue. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 1–9. https://doi. org/10.1111/1752-1688.13014.
  • Garfin, G., D.A. Falk, C.D. O’Connor, Jacobs, K., Sagarin, R.D., Haverland, A.C., Haworth, A., Baglee, A., Weiss, J., Overpeck, J. Zuniga-Teran, A.A. A New Mission: Mainstreaming climate adaptation in the US Department of Defense. Vol 22, 2021, 100230. Climate Services, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cliser.2021.100230.
  • Rivera-Torres, M., A.K. Gerlak, K. Jacobs (2021) Lesson learning in the Colorado River Basin, Water International, doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2021.1913782.
  • Gerlak, A.K., K.L. Jacobs, A.L. McCoy, S. Martin, M. Rivera-Torres, A.M. Murveit, A.J. Leinberger, T. Thomure.  “Scenario Planning: Embracing the Potential for Extreme Events in the Colorado River Basin.” Climatic Change. Vol. 165, No. 27.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-03013-3
  • Jacobs, K. L., A. McCoy, S. Martin, and A. K. Gerlak (2020), Reimagining the Colorado River by exploring extreme events, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO151369. Published 12 November 2020. 
  • Jacobs, K.L. and R.B. Street. The Next Generation of Climate Services. Climate Services Vol 20, 2020, 100199, ISSN 2405-8807, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cliser.2020.100199.  
  • Gerlak, A.K., S.J. Mason, M. Daly, D. Liverman, Z. Guido, M.B. Soares, C. Vaughan, C. Knudson, C. Greene, J. Buizer, K. Jacobs. “The Gnat and the Bull: Do Climate Outlook Forums Make a Difference?” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0008.1 Published Online: 5 February 2020. 


  • MLA, Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley
  • BA, Biology, Middlebury College
Geographic Area
Language Area
Expertise Area
Climate Assessment
Human Dimensions of Climate Change
Public Policy and Governance
Scenario Planning
Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach
Vulnerability Assessment
Water Conservation, Supply, and Demand