About Lisa Dilling, Associate Chief Scientist

Lisa Dilling

Associate Chief Scientist


Areas of expertise:

Climate change, climate adaptation, carbon management, social science, usable science, water management, energy transition, ocean carbon cycle, geoengineering


Lisa Dilling, Ph.D. works with the Chief Scientist, Associate Chief Scientist, and other members of the OCS leadership team to identify and support the science needed to successfully carry out EDF’s mission. In her role she seeks out new and emerging topics that will contribute to climate change solutions and build societal resilience, and has a focus on natural climate solutions, social science, oceans, and agricultural methane. She enjoys collaborating across perspectives to ensure that science is relevant and actionable for addressing environmental problems and seeking ways to support society in making effective and just decisions on climate change.

Lisa is an interdisciplinary scientist, studying the science-policy interface and how to implement effective climate change solutions for over 25 years. She has published research on carbon management, climate adaptation, usable science, urban water system adaptation, geoengineering, and the ocean carbon cycle. 


Lisa came to EDF after more than 15 years as a professor in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA. In addition to conducting research and teaching, Lisa led the NOAA-funded Western Water Assessment for over 7 years, working to bring decision-relevant science to resource managers and communities in the Intermountain Western U.S. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, national reports, and a co-edited volume entitled “Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change.” Prior positions include the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and NOAA’s Climate and Global Change Program. Lisa has served as journal editor for three different journals, and on several Boards and Advisory Committees. She is currently a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society, NASA’s Applied Sciences Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Board for the Aspen Global Change Institute.


Ph.D. Biology, University of California Santa Barbara

B.A. Biology, Harvard College


(Selected: for full list please see Google Scholar)

Dilling, L., Daly, M., Travis, W., Ray, A., Wilhelmi, O. (2023). The role of adaptive capacity in resilience and transformation of three large U.S. urban water systems. Global Environmental Change 79, 102649 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2023.102649

Dilling, L., Lemos, M.C., Singh, N. (2021). Commentary: First, do no harm: Scaling usable knowledge for just and equitable outcomes. Global Environmental Change https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102404

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25762. (Dilling was member of committee and co-author of report)

Page, R. and L. Dilling (2020). How experiences of climate extremes motivate adaptation among water managers. Climatic Changedoi: 10.1007/s10584-020-02712-7

Daly, M. E. and Dilling, L. 2019. The politics of ‘usable’ knowledge: Examining the development of climate services in Tanzania. Climatic Change 157:61-80. https://DOI:10.1007/s10584-019-01510-w

Dilling, L., Prakash, A., Zommers, Z., Ahmad, F., Singh, N., De Wit, S., Nalau J., Daly, M., Bowman, K. 2019. Invited Comment: Is adaptation success a flawed concept? Nature Climate Change, 8 (8) 572-574: 1758-678x  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0539-0

Dilling, L., Berggren, J., Henderson, J. and Kenney, D. 2019. Savior of rural landscapes or Solomon’s Choice? Colorado’s experiment with Alternative Transfer Methods for water (ATMs). Water Security 6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasec.2019.100027

Dilling, L., Daly M., Klein R., Kenney D., Miller K., Ray A., Travis W., Wilhelmi O. 2019. Drought in urban water systems: Learning lessons for climate adaptive capacity. Climate Risk Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2018.11.001

Averyt, K., Derner, J., Dilling, L., Guerrero R., Joyce L., McNeeley, S., McNie E., Morisette J., Ojima, D., O’Malley, R., Peck, D., Ray, A., Reeves, M., Travis, W. 2018. Regional Climate Response Collaboratives: Multi-Institutional Support for Climate Resilience. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, May 2018 pp. 891-898. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0183.1

Wibeck, V., Hansson, A., Anshelm, A., Asayama, S., Dilling, L., Feetham, P.M., Hauser, R., Ishii, A., Sugiyama, M. 2017. Making sense of climate engineering: a focus group study of lay publics in four countries. Climatic Change 145:1-2 pp.1-14. http://doi:10.1007/s10584-017-2067-0

Smith, R., Kasprzyk, J., Dilling, L. 2017. Participatory Framework for Assessment and Improvement of Tools (ParFAIT): increasing the impact and relevance of water management decision support research. Environmental Modeling and Software 95: 432-446. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.05.004

Dilling, L., Pizzi, E., Berggren, J., Ravikumar, A., Andersson, K. 2017. Drivers of Adaptation: Responses to weather- and climate-related hazards in 60 local governments in the Intermountain Western U.S. Environment and Planning A, 1-21 https://doi-org.colorado.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/0308518X16688686

Kirchhoff, C. J., and Dilling, L. 2016. The role of US states in facilitating effective water governance under stress and change. Water Resources Research, http://doi.org/10.1002/2015WR018431

Dilling, L., Daly, M., Travis, W., Wilhelmi, O. and R. Klein. 2015. The dynamics of vulnerability: Why adapting to climate variability may not always prepare us for climate change.  WIREs: Climate Change 2015. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.341

Dilling, L., Lackstrom, K., Haywood, B., Dow, K., Lemos, M.C., Berggren, J., Kalafatis, S. 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):5-17 https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-14-00001.1

Archie, K.M., L. Dilling, J.B. Milford, and F.C. Pampel. 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 133:397-410. https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-14-00001.1

Dilling, L. and R. Hauser.  2013. Governing Geoengineering Research: Why, When and How? Climatic Change 121(3): 553-565. https://DOI.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0835-z

Dilling, L., Birdsey R., and Y. Pan.  2013.  Chapter 18: Opportunities and Challenges for Carbon Management on U.S. Public Lands. Invited Contribution for Land Use and the Carbon Cycle: Science and Applications in Human and Environment Interactions. Robinson, Brown, French and Reed, Eds.  Cambridge University Press. https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/46066

Dilling, L., and E. Failey. 2013. Managing carbon in a multiple use world: The implications of land-use decision context for carbon management. Global Environ. Change 23(1): 291-300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.012

Archie, K. M., L. Dilling, J. B. Milford, and F. C. Pampel. 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): 20. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05187-170420

Morss, R., Wilhelmi, O., Meehl, G., and L. Dilling. 2011. Improving Societal Outcomes of Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate: An Integrated Perspective.  Annual Review of Environment and Resources.  36:16.1-16.25.  https://doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-060809-100145

Dilling, L. and M.C. Lemos. 2011.  Creating usable science: Opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. Global Environmental Change 21:680-689. https://doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.11.006

Failey, E. and L. Dilling. 2010. Carbon stewardship: Land management decisions and the potential for carbon sequestration in Colorado, USA.  Environmental Research Letters, 5 https://doi:10.1088/1748-9326/5/2/024005

Book: Moser, S. and L. Dilling, Eds. 2007. Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change—Facilitating Social Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511535871

CCSP. 2007. The First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research [King, A., Dilling, L., Fairman, D., Houghton, R., Marland, G., Rose, A., Wilbanks, T. (eds.)]. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate Program Office, Silver Spring, MD, USA, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, USA, 242 pp. https://www.carboncyclescience.us/sites/default/files/documents/sap2-2-final-all-SOCCR-2007.pdf

Lemos, M.C. and L. Dilling. 2007. Equity in forecasting climate: Can science save the poor? Science and Public Policy, 34(2): 109-116. https://doi.org/10.3152/030234207X190964

Dilling, L. 2007. Toward carbon governance:  Challenges across scales in the United States.  Global Environmental Politics, 7(2): 28-44 https://doi.org/10.1162/glep.2007.7.2.28

Moser S. and L. Dilling. 2004. Making Climate Hot: Communicating the urgency and challenge of global climate change. Environment 46: 32-46. https://doi.org/10.1080/00139150409605820

Dilling L., Doney S, Edmonds J, Gurney KR, Harriss R, Schimel D, Stephens B, and G. Stokes.  2003. The role of carbon cycle observations and knowledge in carbon management.  Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28:521-58. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.energy.28.011503.163443

Dilling L. and A.L. Alldredge. 2000.  Fragmentation of marine snow by swimming macrozooplankton: A new process impacting carbon cycling in the sea.  Deep Sea Res. I 47:1227-1245. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0637(99)00105-3

Dilling L., Wilson J., Steinberg D., and A.L. Alldredge. 1998. Feeding by the euphausiid Euphausia pacifica  and the copepod Calanus pacificus on marine snow. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 170: 189-201. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps170189