Kathy Jacobs

Kathy Jacobs
Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions
ENR2, Rm N426
Office Phone: 
(520) 626-0684
(520) 626-7770

University of California, Berkeley. MLA in Environmental Planning, 1981.
Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont. B.A. in Biology, 1977.
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Junior year exchange student in Biology.


Award for Excellence as a Teaching Assistant, Berkeley, 1981
American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for the
Outstanding Graduate Student in Landscape Architecture, Berkeley, 1981
Newhouse Grant and Heller Fellowship, Berkeley, 1980
Cum laude, Departmental Honors in Biology, Middlebury College, 1977


Boggess Award, Best Paper, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 2009
Partners in Conservation Award, Secretary of the Interior, 2009
Appointed to National Academy of Sciences Panels, 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2008 (2 panels)
Outstanding Diversity by a Graduate Program Award, Univ. of Arizona, 2008
Special Achievement Award, Dept. of Water Resources, 2002
Employee of the Year, Dept. of Water Resources, 2000
Tucson Regional Water Council Community Leadership Award, 1999
Special Achievement Award, Dept. of Water Resources, 1991, 1993, 1996
Division of the Year, Dept. of Water Resources, 1989
Supervisor of the Year, Dept. of Water Resources, 1988

Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona, Jan. 2014 – present.
CCASS supports climate change adapatation and assessment activities at regional, national, and international scales, supported by University experts in a wide range of climate-related fields.

Professor and Specialist, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona, October 2003 – present.
Research is focused on water policy, drought planning, stakeholder engagement, Colorado River management, climate change adaptation, and analysis of knowledge systems for sustainable development. Also serve as a water management extension specialist (multiple outreach and education activities), and as an Affiliate of the Institute of Environment at the UA.

Prior Experience:

Assistant Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive Office of the President, 2010 – 2013.Served as Director of the National Climate Assesment, leading a team of 300 authors and more than a thousand contributors to the Third NCA report.  Lead advisor on water science and policy, and climate adaptation within OSTP.

Joint Appointments, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources and College of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, September 2005 – 2009. Supervise graduate students and facilitate coordination between departments; participate in interdisciplinary projects of various kinds.

Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute, January, 2006 – 2009. Responsible for program development, building collaborative partnerships with communities, agencies and tribes, project management, inter-university and inter-agency coordination, grant writing and fundraising, outreach, education, and technology transfer for an innovative institute linking Arizona’s three universities; also facilitated workshops, supervise employees and students, managed over 60 research projects, and gave public lectures and presentations.

Deputy Director, Center for Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas, University of Arizona, September 2004 – February 2008. Assisted in management and strategic planning for an NSF Science and Technology Center involving 14 universities and laboratories and over 250 researchers. The federal budget was just under $3 million annually; developed and managed SAHRA’s water management-focused stakeholder engagement program. Associate Director for Science Implementation, March 2008 to 2010. Managed stakeholder engagement activities and facilitate use of science outputs in management applications.

Special Assistant for Policy and Planning, Arizona Department of Water Resources, August, 2002 to October, 2003. In this position, I was the lead staff person for the development of the Arizona Drought Plan and worked on statewide and rural water resource issues.

Visiting Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA-UCAR), September, 2001 to July 2002. I worked closely with scientists and researchers to improve the effectiveness of water and climate related research and applications within NOAA, including developing climate science decision support tools.

Special Assistant, Governor Hull’s Water Management Commission, Arizona Department of Water Resources. March, 2001 to July, 2001. I was the lead staff person supporting a 49-person Commission and multiple working groups established by the Governor.

Director, Tucson Active Management Area, Arizona Department of Water Resources, February, 1988, to March, 2001. My responsibilities included managing the groundwater rights in the greater Tucson area, overseeing and managing all aspects of the Tucson office of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and developing water management policy and regulations, including mandatory conservation requirements, the Assured Water Supply Rules, recharge and recovery activities, and consensus building relative to major water conflicts.

Unit Supervisor, Water Resource Specialist II and III, Tucson Active Management Area, September, 1981 to February, 1988. I served as lead planner for municipal, turf and industrial water conservation programs for the second management plan, as well as supervising Operations and Compliance for the Tucson office. I developed and implemented mandatory conservation requirements for municipal and industrial water use, verified water rights applications, and prepared reports for hearings.

Coastal Management Planner, Municipality of Anchorage Planning Department. Anchorage, Alaska. 1980. As part of a three-member team, I prepared the Coastal Management Plan for a 25 mile segment of the Anchorage shoreline, including public access, resource protection, and scenic area elements.

Katharine Jacobs is Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) at the University of Arizona, in the Institute of the Environment, which was established in 2014. From January 2010 to December 2013, Jacobs worked in Washington DC at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she directed the third National Climate Assessment and served as the Assistant Director of OSTP for Climate Assessment and Adaptation and as lead water advisor to the President’s Science Advisor. 


She is also a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona and a joint professor in Hydrology and Water Resources. From 2006-2009 Jacobs was the Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute, a consortium of the three state universities focused on water-related research, education and technology transfer in support of water supply sustainability. She has more than twenty years of experience as a water manager for the state of Arizona Department of Water Resources, including 14 years as director of the Tucson Active Management Area. Her research interests include water policy, connecting science and decision-making, stakeholder engagement, use of climate information for water management applications, climate change adaptation and drought planning. Her largest current project is a collaborative research partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation enhancing use of climate information for managing the Colorado River.

Ms. Jacobs earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She was the author of the water sector chapter for the National Assessment of the Impacts of Climate Change, and a convening lead author of the Climate Change Science Program’s report on Decision-Support Experiments for Water Resources. She has served on eight National Research Council panels and was Chair of the NRC Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change and a member of the panel on America’s Climate Choices.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press, “Linking Knowledge with Action in the Pursuit of Sustainable Water Resources Management” with Louis Lebel (Chang Mai University); James Buizer (Arizona State University); Lee Addams (Columbia University); Pam Matson (Stanford University); Ellen McCullough (FAO); Po Garden (Chang Mai University); George Saliba (University of Arizona); Timothy Finan (University of Arizona).

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press, “Making short-term climate forecasts useful: Linking science and action” with James Buizer (Arizona State University) and David Cash (State of Massachusetts).

J. Banner, C. Jackson, L. Yang, K. Hayhoe, C. Woodhouse, L. Gulden, K. Jacobs, G. North, R. Leung and W. Washington, (submitted), “Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water: A White Paper Assessment of the Past, Present and Future and Recommendations for Action.” Texas Water Journal.

K. Jacobs, (in press), “Sustainability and River Restoration in the Colorado River Basin: A Climate Perspective,” in Melis, T.S., Hamill, J.F., Coggins, L.C., Jr., Grams, P.E., Kennedy, T.A., Kubly, D.M., and Ralston, B.E., eds., Proceedings of the Colorado River Basin Science and resource Management Symposium, November 18-20, 2009, USGS, Reston, VA

G. Garfin, K. Jacobs and J. Buizer, (in press). “Climate Change Adaptation Lessons from the Land of Dry Heat.” Webb, R.M.T., and Semmens, D.J., eds., 2009, Planning for an uncertain future—Monitoring, integration, and adaptation. Proceedings of the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5049, 292 p.

Jacobs, K., 2009, “Water Rights for the Environment?” Vermillion Flycatcher, Vol. 54, No. 3.

Bark, R and K. Jacobs, 2009. "Indian Water Rights Settlements and Water Management Innovations: The Role of the Arizona Water Settlements Act,” Water Resources Research.

Jacobs, K., 2009, “Groundwater Management Issues and Innovations in Arizona” in Policy and Strategic Behaviour in Water Resource Management, A. Dinar and J. Albiac, eds., Earthscan, London.