Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Lisa Dilling

Research Interests

I am a Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and former Director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder. My research focuses on understanding how to build climate resilience and accelerate the transition to carbon-free energy. I use interdisciplinary, empirical methods to study the tradeoffs involved in implementing new policies at the local and regional scale and understanding how science can best support robust decision making in deeply uncertain contexts.  Topics of research include energy, climate adaptation, drought and urban water management, policy for usable science, climate change and public lands, carbon management, geoengineering, and municipal policies regarding natural hazards. I have served on numerous national and research advisory boards, three journal editorial boards, a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Committee, and was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford in 2016-2017. I teach classes on climate and energy policy, science and technology policy, resilience analysis, usable science, research methods, and introductory environmental studies.

Research Topics

  • Accelerating the energy transition
  • Climate adaptation strategies
  • Policy analysis and tradeoffs
  • How decision maker values and perception affect policy choices

View Publications

  • Dilling L; Lemos MC; Singh N. (Nov 2021). Commentary: First, do no harm: Scaling usable knowledge for just and equitable outcomes. Global Environmental Change , 71. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102404
  • Henderson J; Dilling L; Morss R; Wilhelmi O; Rick U. (Oct 2021). "We Got in the Pilot Program to Learn from It:'' Features of Social Learning in Drought Contexts along the Arkansas River in Colorado. Weather, Climate and Society , 13(4), 729-741. 10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0120.1
  • Page R; Dilling L. (Apr 2020). How experiences of climate extremes motivate adaptation among water managers. Climatic Change: an interdisciplinary, international journal devoted to the description, causes and implications of climatic change , 161(3), 499-516. 10.1007/s10584-020-02712-7
  • Dilling, L., J. Berggren, J. Henderson, and D. Kenney. (Dec 2019). Savior of rural landscapes or Solomon's choice? Colorado's experiment with alternative transfer methods for water ATMs. , 6. 10.1016/j.wasec.2019.100027
  • Daly, M; Dilling, L. (Nov 2019). The politics of "usable" knowledge: examining the development of climate services in Tanzania. CLIMATIC CHANGE , 157(1). 10.1007/s10584-019-02510-w
  • Page, R; Dilling, L. (Oct 2019). The Critical Role of Communities of Practice and Peer Learning in Scaling Hydroclimatic Information Adoption. WEATHER CLIMATE AND SOCIETY , 11(4). 10.1175/WCAS-D-18-0130.1
  • Dilling, L; Prakash, A; Zommers, Z; Ahmad, F; Singh, N; de Wit, S; Nalau, J; Daly, M; Bowman, K. (Aug 2019). Is adaptation success a flawed concept?. NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE , 9(8). 10.1038/s41558-019-0539-0
  • Smith, R; Kasprzyk, J; Dilling, L. (Jul 2019). Testing the potential of Multiobjective Evolutionary Algorithms (MOEAs) with Colorado water managers. ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING & SOFTWARE , 117. 10.1016/j.envsoft.2019.03.011
  • Dilling, L; Daly, ME; Kenney, DA; Klein, R; Miller, K; Ray, AJ; Travis, WR; Wilhelmi, O. (Jan 2019). Drought in urban water systems: Learning lessons for climate adaptive capacity. CLIMATE RISK MANAGEMENT , 23. 10.1016/j.crm.2018.11.001
  • Averyt, K, JD Derner, L Dilling, R Guerrero, L Joyce, S McNeeley, E McNie, J Morisette, D Ojima, R OMalley, D Peck, AJ Ray, M Reeves and W Travis. (May 2018). Regional Climate Response Collaboratives Multi-Institutional Support for Climate Resilience. BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY , 99(5). 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0183.1
  • Lemos MC; Eakin H; Dilling L; Worl J. (Jan 2018). Social Sciences, Weather, and Climate Change. Meteorological Monographs- American Meteorological Society , 59, 26.1-26.25. 10.1175/amsmonographs-d-18-0011.1
  • Dilling, L., R. Morss, and O. Wilhelmi. (Jan 2018). Learning to Expect Surprise: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Beyond. , 4(3). 10.1142/s2345737617710014
  • Dilling, L, E Pizzi, J Berggren, A Ravikumar and K Andersson. (Nov 2017). Drivers of adaptation: Responses to weather- and climate-related hazards in 60 local governments in the Intermountain Western US. ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING A , 49(11). 10.1177/0308518X16688686
  • Wibeck, V, A Hansson, J Anshelm, S Asayama, L Dilling, PM Feetham, R Hauser, A Ishii and M Sugiyama. (Nov 2017). Making sense of climate engineering: a focus group study of lay publics in four countries. CLIMATIC CHANGE , 145(2-Jan). 10.1007/s10584-017-2067-0
  • Smith, R, J Kasprzyk and L Dilling. (Sep 2017). Participatory Framework for Assessment and Improvement of Tools (ParFAIT): Increasing the impact and relevance of water management decision support research. ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING & SOFTWARE , 95. 10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.05.004
  • Dilling, L, KC Kelsey, DP Fernandez, YD Huang, JB Milford and JC Neff. (Aug 2016). Managing Carbon on Federal Public Lands: Opportunities and Challenges in Southwestern Colorado. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT , 58(2). 10.1007/s00267-016-0714-2
  • Kirchhoff, CJ and L Dilling. (Apr 2016). The role of US states in facilitating effective water governance under stress and change. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH , 52(4). 10.1002/2015WR018431
  • Dilling, L, ME Daly, WR Travis, OV Wilhelmi and RA Klein. (Dec 2015). The dynamics of vulnerability: why adapting to climate variability will not always prepare us for climate change. WILEY INTERDISCIPLINARY REVIEWS-CLIMATE CHANGE , 6(4). 10.1002/wcc.341
  • Dilling, L and J Berggren. (Apr 2015). What do stakeholders need to manage for climate change and variability? A document-based analysis from three mountain states in the Western USA. REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE , 15(4). 10.1007/s10113-014-0668-y
  • Dilling, L. (Jan 2015). Adaptation. RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON CLIMATE GOVERNANCE.
  • Dilling, L, K Lackstrom, B Haywood, K Dow, MC Lemos, J Berggren and S Kalafatis. (Jan 2015). What Stakeholder Needs Tell Us about Enabling Adaptive Capacity: The Intersection of Context and Information Provision across Regions in the United States. WEATHER CLIMATE AND SOCIETY , 7(1). 10.1175/WCAS-D-14-00001.1
  • Archie, KM, L Dilling, JB Milford and FC Pampel. (Jan 2014). Unpacking the information barrier: Comparing perspectives on information as a barrier to climate change adaptation in the interior mountain West. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT , 133. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.12.015
  • Dilling, L and R Hauser. (Dec 2013). Governing geoengineering research: why, when and how?. CLIMATIC CHANGE , 121(3). 10.1007/s10584-013-0835-z
  • Dilling, L and E Failey. (Feb 2013). Managing carbon in a multiple use world: The implications of land-use decision context for carbon management. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS , 23(1). 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.012
  • Ellenwood, MS, L Dilling and JB Milford. (May 2012). Managing United States Public Lands in Response to Climate Change: A View From the Ground Up. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT , 49(5). 10.1007/s00267-012-9829-2
  • McNeeley, SM, SA Tessendorf, H Lazrus, T Heikkila, IM Ferguson, JS Arrigo, SZ Attari, CM Cianfrani, L Dilling, JJ Gurdak, SK Kampf, D Kauneckis, CJ Kirchhoff, J Lee, BR Lintner, KM Mahoney, S Opitz-Stapleton, P Ray, AB South, AP Stubblefield and J Brugger. (Apr 2012). Catalyzing Frontiers in Water-Climate-Society Research A View from Early Career Scientists and Junior Faculty. BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY , 93(4). 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00221.1
  • Archie, KM, L Dilling, JB Milford and FC Pampel. (Jan 2012). Climate Change and Western Public Lands: a Survey of U.S. Federal Land Managers on the Status of Adaptation Efforts. ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY , 17(4). 10.5751/ES-05187-170420
  • Dilling, L and MC Lemos. (May 2011). Creating usable science: Opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS , 21(2). 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.11.006
  • Hale, B and L Dilling. (Mar 2011). Geoengineering, Ocean Fertilization, and the Problem of Permissible Pollution. SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN VALUES , 36(2). 10.1177/0162243910366150
  • Morss, RE, OV Wilhelmi, GA Meehl and L Dilling. (Jan 2011). Improving Societal Outcomes of Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate: An Integrated Perspective. ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCES, VOL 36 , 36. 10.1146/annurev-environ-060809-100145
  • Failey, EL and L Dilling. (Dec 2010). Carbon stewardship: land management decisions and the potential for carbon sequestration in Colorado, USA. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS , 5(2). 10.1088/1748-9326/5/2/024005
  • Dilling, Liso. (May 2007). Toward carbon governance: Challenges across scales in the United States. , 7(2). 10.1162/glep.2007.7.2.28
  • Dilling L. (Feb 2007). The opportunities and responsibility for carbon cycle science in the US. Environmental Science and Policy , 10(1), 1-4. 10.1016/j.envsci.2006.10.002
  • Dilling, L. (Feb 2007). Towards science in support of decision making: characterizing the supply of carbon cycle science. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY , 10(1). 10.1016/j.envsci.2006.10.008
  • Lemos, M.C., L. Dilling. (Jan 2007). Equity in forecasting climate: Can science save the poor?. , 34(2). 10.3152/030234207x190964
  • Dilling, L and SC Moser. (Jan 2007). CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change Introduction. CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE: COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND FACILITATING SOCIAL CHANGE. 10.1017/CBO9780511535871.003
  • Moser, SC and L Dilling. (Jan 2007). CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change Preface. CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE: COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND FACILITATING SOCIAL CHANGE. 10.1017/CBO9780511535871.001
  • Dilling, L and B Farhar. (Jan 2007). Making it easy: establishing energy efficiency and renewable energy as routine best practice. CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE: COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND FACILITATING SOCIAL CHANGE. 10.1017/CBO9780511535871.026
  • Moser, SC and L Dilling. (Jan 2007). Toward the social tipping point: creating a climate for change. CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE: COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND FACILITATING SOCIAL CHANGE. 10.1017/CBO9780511535871.035
  • Miller, J. B. (Jan 2005). Book Review: ‘The Global Carbon Cycle: Integrating Humans, Climate, and the Natural World’. , 87 (4).
  • Moser, SC and L Dilling. (Dec 2004). Making climate hot - Communicating the urgency and challenge of global climate change. ENVIRONMENT , 46(10). 10.1080/00139150409605820
  • Dilling, L and MA Brzezinski. (Sep 2004). Quantifying marine snow as a food choice for zooplankton using stable silicon isotope tracers. , 26(9). 10.1093/plankt/fbh103
  • Dilling, L, SC Doney, J Edmonds, KR Gurney, R Harriss, D Schimel, B Stephens and G Stokes. (Jan 2003). Therole of carbon cycle observations andknowledge in carbon management. ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCES , 28. 10.1146/annurev.energy.28.011503.163443
  • Dilling, L and AL Alldredge. (Jun 2000). Fragmentation of marine snow by swimming macrozooplankton: A new process impacting carbon cycling in the sea. , 47(7). 10.1016/S0967-0637(99)00105-3
  • Dilling, L, J Wilson, D Steinberg and A Alldredge. (Mar 1998). Feeding by the euphausiid Euphausia pacifica and the copepod Calanus pacificus on marine snow. , 170. 10.3354/meps170189
  • DILLING, L and AL ALLDREDGE. (Jan 1993). CAN CHAETOGNATH FECAL PELLETS CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO CARBON FLUX. , 92(2-Jan). 10.3354/meps092051

Graduate Students

Will Crawford

MS student, Environmental Studies Program

Natalie Bennett

MS student, Environmental Studies Program

Rebecca Page

MS Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2018

John Berggren

PhD Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2017

Meaghan Daly

PhD Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2016

Rachel Hauser

MS Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2013

Kelli Archie

PhD Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2012

 
Ron LaCross

MS Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2011

Elizabeth (Failey) Wagner

MS Student, Environmental Studies Program

Graduated 2011



Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Daniel Mayer, Wikimedia