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Crystal Kolden

Crystal Kolden

Assistant Professor


McClure Hall 401B


(208) 885-6018

Mailing Address

Department of Geography
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3021
Moscow, ID 83844-3021

Research: Wildfire Management, Ecology,; Climate Impacts, GIS, Remote Sensing, Invasive Species

  • Ph.D. Geography, Clark University 2010
  • M.S. Geography, University of Nevada 2005
  • B.A. History, Cornell University 1999

My background includes over a decade of employment with the US Forest Service (including time as a wildland firefighter) and the US Geological Survey, so my research focuses on science applications and technology transfer for public policy makers and land use managers. I primarily work in the western US and Alaska.

My current work focuses on monitoring and measurement of landscape-scale ecological change through remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems-based pattern analysis. I am primarily interested in large-scale abiotic and disturbance factors such as wildfire, invasive species, and climate change.

I contextualize my work in the realm of public policy development and applied land management, and work closely with colleagues in both areas to develop integrated management strategies and policies that incorporate the best-available science. Some examples of this include:

  1. Assessing the impacts of climate change on fuel treatment effectiveness in Southern California shrublands and forests to reduce wildfire risk;
  2. Defining trends in wildfire burn severity from satellite data as a product of climate change versus human influences in order to develop proactive land management and wildfire suppression strategies;
  3. Mapping disturbances in near-shore watersheds to determine impacts on sea otter habitat;
  4. Assessing the use of climate information to proactively redevelop national wildfire policy and reduce the changing risks associated with wildfire over the next century; and
  5. Developing use guides and best management practices for users of national geospatial datasets derived from remotely sensed data.

Curriculum vitae (PDF)

Refereed publications

  • Abatzoglou, J.T., C.A. Kolden, 2013. Relationships between climate and macroscale area burned in the western United States International Journal of Wildland Fire 22 (7), 1003-1020
  • Hicke, J.A., A.J.H. Meddens, C.D. Allen, C.A. Kolden, 2013. Carbon stocks of trees killed by bark beetles and wildfire in the western United States Environmental Research Letters 8 (3), 035032
  • Bowlick, F.J., C.A. Kolden, 2013. Effects of an introductory geography course on student perceptions of geography at the University of Idaho Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 1-21
  • Kolden, C.A., and J. Rogan. 2013. Mapping wildfire burn severity in the Arctic tundra: novel approaches for an extreme environment. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research
  • Kolden, C.A., J.A. Lutz, C.H. Key, J.T. Kane, and J.W., van Wagtendonk. 2012. Mapped versus actual burned area within wildfire perimeters: characterizing the unburned. Forest Ecology and Management, 286: 138-147
  • Ray, L.A., C.A. Kolden, and F.T. Chapin III. 2012. Developing fire management strategies from traditional ecological knowledge in the absence of local science. Ecology and Society. 17 (3): 37
  • Owen, G., J. McLeod, C.A. Kolden, D. Ferguson, and T.J. Brown. 2012. Predictive Forecasting in wildland fire management: a social network analysis of the southwestern U.S. Weather, Climate and Society 4(2): 90-102.
  • Kolden, C.A., J.T. Abatzoglou. 2012. Climate and Vegetation Influences on Fire Impacts in Alaskan Boreal Forest: Implications for Carbon and Fire Management. Fire Ecology 8(1): 98-113.
  • Lutz, J., C.H. Key, C.A. Kolden, J.T. Kane, and J.W. Van Wagtendonk. 2011. Fire frequency, area burned, and severity: A quantitative approach to defining a normal fire year. Fire Ecology 7(2): 51-65.
  • Abatzoglou, J.T., and C.A. Kolden. 2011. Relative Importance of Weather and Climate on Wildfire Growth in Interior Alaska. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20(4) 479-486.
  • Abatzoglou, J.T. and C.A. Kolden. 2011. Climate change in western US deserts: potential for increased wildfire and invasive annual grasses. Rangeland Ecology and Management
  • Kolden, C.A. and T.J. Brown. 2010. Beyond Wildfire: Perspectives of Climate, Managed Fire and Policy in the U.S.A. International Journal of Wildland Fire 19(3): 364-373.
  • Jones, B., C.A. Kolden, R. Jandt, J.T. Abatzoglou, F. Urban, and C. Arp. 2009. Fire behavior, weather, and burn severity of the 2007 Anaktuvuk River tundra fire, North Slope, Alaska. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 41(3): 309-316.
  • Kolden, C.A. and P.W. Weisberg. 2007. Assessing accuracy of manually-mapped wildfire perimeters in topographically dissected areas. Fire Ecology 3(1): 22-31.
  • Kolden, C.A., and T.J. Weigel. 2007. Fire risk in San Diego County, California: A weighted Bayesian model approach. The California Geographer 47: 1-17.


Physical Address:
McClure Hall 201

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3021
Moscow, ID 83844-3021

Phone: (208) 885-6216


Web: Department of Geography