• Climate



    Resource Management

    Welcome! I am a hydroclimatologist and environmental scientist exploring influences of climate change on global water cycles relevant to human populations and ecosystems. I specialize in developing and analyzing tree-ring records of drought, flood, snow, runoff, ice melt, and forest vegetation - and the climate patterns that drive these processes - especially in mountains. My priority is to provide practical datasets and information that can be used by resource managers, policy-makers, and communities confronting climate change.


    I will be joining the Department of Geoscience at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in January 2019, and I have several

    fully-funded Masters of Science and Postdoctoral Research Scientist positions available!

    For more information, please contact me by email. Research themes include:


    1) Fraser Basin drought reconstruction and risk assessment using tree-rings (British Columbia, Canada)
    2) Using tree-rings to analyze past snowpack dynamics and snowpack declines in western North America


    Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research Scientist with Dr. Kevin Anchukaitis in the Past Landscapes Lab and Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at University of Arizona. In partnership with the USGS Climate Science Centers I am developing the Western Cordilleran Snow Atlas, tree-ring based historical gridded snowpack records that span western North America and offer an unprecedented chance to explore snowpack responses to climate change over space and time. Two recent National Science Foundation grants are focused on 1) developing management-relevant drought-risk assessments for the Fraser River Basin in British Columbia, one of the largest and most hydrologically complex watersheds on Earth, and 2) using tree rings to analyze spatiotemporal variability in western United States snowpack during the Common Era. Other previous and ongoing research programs include: examining climate drivers of snowpack decline, reduced runoff, and glacier ice melt across western North America; assessing impacts of snow drought on montane forest growth; diagnosing climate change-induced mass movement and hazards in the Canadian Rockies; promoting best practices in the use of freely available tree-ring datasets in the open-data age, and; developing new methods for paleohydrology in underrepresented parts of the globe. I earned my Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Victoria, Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Dan Smith (University of Victoria Tree-Ring Laboratory). I hold an M.Sc. in Geography from the University of Victoria, and a B.A. from Mount Allison University.


    Past Landscapes Lab: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~kanchukaitis/

    Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research: http://ltrr.arizona.edu/

    University of Victoria Tree-Ring Laboratory: http://www.geog.uvic.ca/dept/uvtrl/uvtrl.htm

  • Research Areas

    previous & ongoing

    The Western Cordilleran Snow Atlas

    In partnership with the USGS Climate Science Centers we are developing 2000-year-long gridded snowpack records for the western North American cordilleras, examining how climate change influences snow at unprecedented space and time scales, and testing how well climate models simulate future snow. Working with local stakeholders, the Atlas will be freely available for water resource managers facing snow drought.



    USGS Climate Science Centers #G16AC00266

    Water Resource Relevant Hydroclimatic Reconstructions for Western North America


    See also Stakeholder Reports, below

    Fraser River Basin runoff reconstruction

    British Columbia's Fraser River Basin (FRB) sustains some of the world’s most biodiverse and pristine wildlands, food and economic sovereignty for over eighty First Nations, and the western Canadian economy. Collaborating with the provincial government and Fraser Basin Council, we are reconstructing long FRB streamflow records using tree rings, diagnosing climate drivers of runoff decline, and benchmarking the potential frequency, magnitude, and duration of future droughts.



    National Science Foundation Geography and Spatial Sciences Program #17-566
    Developing Management-Relevant Streamflow Reconstructions for the Fraser River

    Water scarcity in the rainforest

    Coastal British Columbia is a temperate rainforest, but recently the region has experienced extreme droughts. We developed new methods for reconstructing runoff in the small, ecologically-critical rivers that support this region, showing for the first time that worst-case-scenario droughts are underestimated by water managers, and will likely worsen in the future.




    Welsh, C., Smith, D.J., and Coulthard, B. L. (2018). Long snow water equivalent records developed from tree-rings for the Stikine-Transboundary watershed in British Columbia,

    Canada. Journal of Hydrology, in review.


    Coulthard, B.L., Smith, D. J., & Meko, D. M. (2016). Is worst-case scenario streamflow drought underestimated in British Columbia? A multi-century perspective for the south coast, derived from tree-rings. Journal of Hydrology, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.12.030


    Coulthard, B.L., & Smith, D. J. (2015). A 477-year dendrohydrological assessment of drought severity for Tsable River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Hydrological Processes,

    DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10726


    See also Stakeholder Reports, below

    Snow drought and forest productivity

    My research in this area generally explores how snow meltwaters influence forest growth, and whether tree-ring records can serve as proxies for forest and/or ecosystem primary productivity in arid, drought-susceptible environments.




    Coulthard, B. L., Anchukatis, K. J., Touchan, R., and Meko, D. M., and Sivrikaya, F. (2017). Tree growth and vegetation activity at the ecosystem scale in the eastern Mediterranean. Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa7b26


    Carlson, K., Coulthard, B.L., & Starzomski, B.M (2016). Autumn Snowfall Controls the Annual Radial Growth of Centenarian Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) in the Southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada.

    Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
    DOI: 10.1657/AAAR0016-033

    How do tree rings 'measure' snow?

    Paleosnow reconstructions are a frontier in tree-ring science, but relationships between annual ring formation and snow have not been tested experimentally. To better understand this proxy we are tracking the weekly timing of snow melt and cambial cell division at a long term monitoring plot.


    Data collection and analysis ongoing


    Tree-ring pitfalls in the open-data age

    Accurately using freely-available tree-ring chronologies requires a deep understanding of the methods applied to produce them and the limits they impose. We are working to highlight common pitfalls to consider when using tree-ring data.




    Coulthard, B.L. and St. George, S. (2017). What natural scientists need to know when using freely-available tree-ring chronologies. Manuscript in preparation (90% complete), anticipated submission date to Nature Ecology and Evolution - Comment: 04/02/2018.


    Coulthard, B.L. and Smith, D. J. 2013a. Dendrochronology. In: Elias S.A. (ed.) The

    Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. Vol. 1, pp. 453-458. Amsterdam: Els

    Holocene glacier history

    My early graduate research focused on using glacially-killed forests to date glacier ice melt histories in the Canadian Central Coast Mountains.


    Dendroglaciological investigations of mid- to late-Holocene glacial activity in the Mt. Waddington area, British Columbia Coast Mountains, Canada
    Coulthard, B.L., Smith, D. J., & Lacourse, T. (2012). The Holocene.

    DOI: 10.1177/0959683612455537


    Coulthard, B.L. and Smith, D. J. 2013b. Dendroglaciology. In: Elias S.A. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. Vol 2, pp. 104-1

    Mountain debris flood hazard

    In my consulting work I use dendrogeomorphological techniques to date steep creek mountain debris flow events and return intervals.



    Town of Canmore, Alberta, Canada

    Hazard and risk assessment reports, BGC Engineering


    Municipal District of Bighorn, Alberta, Canada

    Flood hazard assessment/risk assessment/mitigation, BGC Engineering


  • Learning & Teaching

    Please see my CV for further learning & teaching experience


    Water Resources Management
    Instructor (2015)
    Department of Geography, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

    Course Syllabus:
    https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/282289d9-8fec-4b7c-9ea5-334fd1218e63/Geog 371 Syllabus.pdf?id=21221


    PRO-grad Seminar

    Founder and co-facilitator (2017-2018)

    Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research Graduate Student Seminar: Scientific and Professional Training

    University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona


    World Dendroecological Field Week

    Instructor, Introduction to Dendrochronology (2018)

    Website: https://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/events/worlddendro2018/fieldweek.html


    North American Dendroecological Field Week

    Instructor, Dendroecology (2014)

    AL Mickelson Field Station, Wyoming

    Website: https://sites.google.com/site/northamericandendrofieldweek/home



    Professional course for BGC Engineering, Vancouver, Canada

    Course outline:
    https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/282289d9-8fec-4b7c-9ea5-334fd1218e63/Dendrogeomorphology course outline.pdf?id=21223


    2 Year Professional Development Program in University Teaching

    Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, University of Victoria, Canada


    ED-D 600 Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

    Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, University of Victoria, Canada


    Integrated Curriculum/Course Design Institute Workshop

    Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, University of Victoria, Canada


    Reading Course: Inquiry-Based Learning

    Department of Geography, University of Arizona, USA


    Diversity in the Classroom Workshop Series
    Office of Faculty Affairs and Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, University of Arizona, USA


  • Stakeholder Reports

    science communication reports (non-peer reviewed)

    Yellowstone Science: vital signs issue


    Report on the history and future of snowpacks in Yellowstone National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


    In progress

    Cowichan Tribes & Cowichan Watershed Board 


    Science brief on the susceptibility of the Cowichan River, British Columbia, Canada, to past and future streamflow drought, based on the results of Coulthard et al. (2016) and Coulthard and Smith (2015).



    https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/1c7a7469-11c7-4506-90a1-ea157b829a6c/Cowichan Drought Report.pdf?id=107224


    Sunshine Coast Regional District


    Science brief on the susceptibility of the Chapman Creek Watershed, British Columbia, Canada, to climate-induced drought, based on the results of Coulthard et al. (2016) and Coulthard and Smith (2015).



    https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/1c7a7469-11c7-4506-90a1-ea157b829a6c/SCRD Streamflow Drought Report.pdf?id=107226



  • Cambium Consulting

    Consulting services in:


    · Geomorphological hazard assessment

    · Streamflow and climate reconstruction

    · CMT (culturally modified tree) survey and dating

    · Dendrochronological dating of historic structures

    · Geographic Information Systems and spatial analysis

    · Dendrochronology training courses


    Inquire here:

  • Media

    The Globe and Mail

    Tree-ring data suggest B.C. is facing harshest droughts in 350 Years


    CBC News

    B.C. has seen worse droughts than previously thought, tree rings reveal


    The Vancouver Sun

    UVic researchers find tree rings predict potential for several B.C. coastal droughts


    Victoria Times Colonist

    Island droughts are going to worsen, researchers say


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