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Michelle Ann Walvoord

Research Hydrologist

Contact Info

Short Biography


Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech

M.S.  in Hydrology, New Mexico Tech

B.A.  in Geology, Hamilton College


Michelle Walvoord is a Lead Scientist and Research Advisor for Hydrology in the National Research Program of the USGS. Her areas of expertise include permafrost hydrology, unsaturated zone and groundwater hydrology, and non-isothermal, multiphase flow and transport modeling. She serves on the Science Advisory Board for the USGS Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, the Permafrost Action Team for NSF's SEARCH project, and as an Associate Editor for Hydrogeology Journal and Water Resources Research. 

Research project information available at:

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Meixner, T. , A.H. Manning, D.A. Stonestrom, D.M. Allen, H. Ajami, K.W. Blasch, A.E. Brookfield, C.I. Castro, J.F. Clark, D.J. Gochis, A.L. Fint, K.L. Neff, R. Niraula, M. Rodell, B.R. Scanlon, K. Singha, M.A.Walvoord (2016) Implications of projected climate change for groundwater recharge in the western United States, Journal of Hydrology, 534, 124-138. [Link]

Briggs, M. A., Campbell, S., Nolan, J., Walvoord, M. A., Ntarlagiannis, D., Day-Lewis, F. D., and Lane, J. W. (2016) Surface Geophysical Methods for Characterising Frozen Ground in Transitional Permafrost Landscapes. Permafrost and Periglac. Process., doi: 10.1002/ppp.1893. [Link]

Green, C. T., Walvoord, M.A., Andraski, B.J., Striegl, R.G., and Stonestrom, D.A. (2015) Multimodel analysis of anisotropic diffusive tracer-gas transport in a deep arid unsaturated zone, Water Resources Research, 51, doi:10.1002/2014WR016055. [Link]

Jepsen, S.M., M.A. Walvoord, C.I. Voss, and J. Rover (2015) Effect of permafrost thaw on the dynamics of lakes recharged by ice-jam floods: case study of Yukon Flats, Alaska, Hydrological Processes, doi:10.1002/hyp.10756. [Link]

Minsley, B.J., Wellman, T.P., Walvoord, M.A., and Revil, A. (2015) Sensitivity of airborne geophysical data to sublacustrine and near-surface permafrost thaw, The Cryosphere, 9, 781-794, doi:10.5194/tc-9-781-2015. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., F.D. Day-Lewis, J.W Lane, Jr., R.G. Striegl, C.I. Voss, T. Douglas and others (2015) Improved understanding of permafrost controls on hydrology in interior Alaska by integration of ground-based geophysicsal permafrost characterization and numerical modeling, Final Report: DTIC Document, v. SERDP Project RC-2111, ADA621851, 111 p. [Link]

Minsley, B.M., T.P. Wellman, M.A. Walvoord, A. Revil (2014), Modeling the hydrogeophysical response of lake talik evolution, SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts 2014, pp. 4528-4533, doi: 10.1190/segam2014-0311.1. [Link]

Briggs, M.A., M.A. Walvoord, J.M. McKenzie, C.I. Voss, F.D. Day-Lewis, J.W. Lane (2014) New permafrost is forming around shrinking arctic lakes, but will it last?, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2014GL059251. [Link]

Pastick, N.J, M.T. Jorgenson, B.K. Wylie, J.R. Rose, M. Rigge, M. A. Walvoord (2014) Spatial variability and landscape controls of near-surface permafrost within the Yukon River Basin, Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 119, 1244-1265, doi: 10.1002/2013JG002594. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Andraski, B., Green, C.T., Stonestrom, D., Striegl, R. (2014) Field-scale sulfur hexafluoride tracer experiment to understand long distance gas transport in the deep unsaturated zone, Vadose Zone Journal, 13, (8) doi:10.2136/vzj2014.04.0045. [Link]

O'Donnell, J.A., G.R. Aiken, M.A. Walvoord, P.A. Raymond, K.D. Butler, M.M. Dornblaser, K. Heckman (2014) Using dissolved organic matter age and composition to detect permafrost thaw in boreal watersheds of interior Alaska, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 119, doi: 10.1002/2014JG002695. [Link]

Jepsen, S.M., C.I. Voss, M.A. Walvoord, J.R. Rose, B.J. Minsley, and B.D. Smith (2013). Sensitivity analysis of lake mass balance in discontinuous permafrost: the example of disappearing Twelvemile Lake, Yukon Flats, Alaska (USA). Hydrogeology Journal, 21:185-200, DOI 10.1007/s10040-012-0896-5. [Link]

Wellman, T., Voss, C., Walvoord, M. (2013) Impacts of climate, lake size, and supra- and sub-permafrost groundwater flow on lake-talik evolution, Yukon Flats, Alaska, USA, Hydrogeology Journal, 21, 281-298, doi:10.1007/s10040-012-0941-4. [Link]

Jepsen, S., Voss, C., Walvoord, M., Minsley, B., Rover, J. (2013) Linkages between lake shrinkage/expansion and sublacustrine permafrost distribution determined from remote sensing of Interior Alaska, USA, Geophysical Research Letters, 40, 882-887, doi:10.1002/grl.50187. [Link]

Pastick, N.J., Jorgenson, M.T., Wylie, B.K., Minsley, B.J., Ji, L., Walvoord, M.A., Smith, B.D., Abraham, J.D., and Rose, J.R. (2013) Extending airborne electromagnetic surveys for regional active layer and permafrost mapping with remote sensins and ancillary data, Yukon Flats Ecoregions, Central Alaska, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, doi:10.1002/ppp.1775. [Link]

Minsley, B.J., J.D. Abraham, B.D. Smith, J.C. Cannia, C.I. Voss, M.T. Jorgenson, M.A. Walvoord, B.K. Wylie, L. Anderson, L.B. Ball, M. Deszcz-Pan, T.P. Wellman and T.A. Ager (2012), Airborne geophysical mapping of permafrost in the Yukon Flats, Alaska, Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L02503, doi:10.1029/2011GL050079. [Link]

Jepsen, S.M., Koch, J., Rose, J., Voss, C.I., and Walvoord, M.A. (2012), Thermal and hydrological observations near Twelvemile Lake in discontinuous permafrost, Yukon Flats, interior Alaska, September 2010 - August 2011, U.S. Geol. Surv. Open File Report 2012-1121, 25 p. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Voss, C.I., Wellman, T.P. (2012), Influence of permafrost distribution on groundwater flow in the context of climate-driven permafrost thaw: Example from Yukon Flats Basin, Alaska, USA, Water Resources Research, 48, 7, doi:10.1029/2011WR011595. [Link]

O'Donnell, J.A., G.R. Aiken, M.A. Walvoord, K.D. Butler (2012), Dissolved organic matter composition of winter flow in the Yukon River basin: Implications of permafrost thaw and increased groundwater discharge, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 26, GB0E06, doi:10.1029/2012GB004341. [Link]

Brabets, T.P., and Walvoord, M.A. (2009), Trends in streamflow in the Yukon River Basin from 1944 to 2005 and the influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Journal of Hydrology, 371, no. 1-4, p. 108-119. [Link]

Walvoord, M., P. Schuster, and R. Striegl, 2009, Understanding the effects of climate change in the Yukon River Basin through a synergistic research approach, in Planning for an uncertain future—Monitoring, integration, and adaptation. Proceedings of the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds, Webb, R.M.T., and Semmens, D.J., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5049, p. 72-73. [Link]

Amundson, R.; Ewing, S.; Dietrich, W.; Sutter, B.; Owen, J.; Chadwick, O.; Nishiizumi, K.; Walvoord, M.; McKay, C. , 2008. On the in situ aqueous alteration of soils on Mars, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (72), 3845-3864. [Link]

Gurdak, J.J., Walvoord, M.A., and McMahon, P.B., 2008. Susceptibility to enhanced chemical migration from depression-focused preferential flow, High Plains Aquifer, Vadose Zone Journal, 7, p. 1172-1184. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Andraski, B.J., Krabbenhoft, D.P., and Striegl, R.G., 2008, Transport of elemental mercury in the unsaturated zone from a waste disposal site in an arid region: Applied Geochemistry, 23, p. 572–583, doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.12.014. [Link]

Stonestrom, David A.; Prudic, David E.; Walvoord, Michelle A.; Abraham, Jared D.; Stewart-Deaker, Amy E.; Glancy, Patrick A.; Constantz, Jim; Laczniak, Randell J.; Andraski., Brian J., 2007. Focused Ground-Water Recharge in the Amargosa Desert Basin. Geological Survey (U.S.) Professional Paper 1703-E, p. 107-136 [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., and Striegl, R.G., 2007, Increased groundwater to stream discharge from permafrost thawing in the Yukon River basin: Potential impacts on lateral export of carbon and nitrogen,Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L12402, doi:10.1029/2007GL030216 [Link]

Rao, B.A., Anderson, T.A., Orris, G.J., Rajagopalan, S., Sandvig, R.M., Scanlon, B.R., Stonestrom, D.A., Walvoord, M.A., and Jackson, W.A., 2007, Widespread natural perchlorate in unsaturated zones of the southwest US, Environmental Science & Technology, 41, p. 4522-4528. [Link]

Kwicklis, E., Wolfsberg, A., Stauffer, P., Walvoord, M., and Sully, M., 2006, Multiphase, multicomponent parameter estimation for liquid and vapor fluxes in deep arid systems using hydrologic data and natural environmental tracers, Vadose Zone Journal, 5, p. 934-950, doi:10.2136/vzj2006.0021. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Striegl, R.G., Prudic, D.E., and Stonestrom, D.A., 2005, CO2 dynamics in the Amargosa Desert: Fluxes and isotopic speciation in a deep unsaturated zone, Water Resources Research, 41, no 2. [Link]

Seyfried, M., S. Schwinning, M. Walvoord, W. Pockman, R. Jackson, B. Newman, F. Phillips (2005), Ecohydrological control of deep drainage in semiarid regions, Ecology, 86 (2), 277-287. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Stonestrom, D.A., Andraski, B.J., and Striegl, R.G., 2004, Constraining the inferred paleohydrologic evolution of a deep unsaturated zone in the Amargosa Desert, Vadose Zone Journal, 3, p. 502-512. [Link]

Phillips, F.M., Walvoord, M.A., and Small, E.E., 2004, Effects of environmental change on groundwater recharge in the desert southwest, in Hogan, J.F, Phillips, F.M, and Scanlon, B.R., eds., Groundwater recharge in a desert environment---The southwestern United States: American Geophysical Union Water Science and Applications Series, v. 9, p. 273-294. [Link]

Stonestrom, D.A., Abraham, J.D., Andraski, B.J., Baker, R.J., Mayers, C.J., Michel, R.L., Prudic, D.E., Striegl, R.G., and Walvoord, M.A., 2004, Monitoring radionuclide contamination in the unsaturated zone - lessons learned at the Amargosa Desert Research Site, Nye County, Nevada, Workshop on Long-term Performance Monitoring of Metals and Radionuclides in the Subsurface, Rston, VA, April 21-22, 2004: Tallahassee, Florida State University. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Phillips, F.M., Stonestrom, D.A., Evans, R.D., Hartsough, P.C., Newman, B.D., and Striegl, R.G., 2004, Response to comment on "A reservoir of nitrate beneath desert soils": Science, 304, p. 51c. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., and Scanlon, B.R., 2004, Hydrologic processes in deep vadose zones in interdrainage arid environments, in Hogan, J.F, Phillips, F.M, and Scanlon, B.R., eds., Groundwater recharge in a desert environment---The southwestern United States: American Geophysical Union Water Science and Applications Series, v. 9, p. 15-28. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., and Stonestrom, D.A., 2004, Enhanced gas-phase transport in a deep unsaturated zone, Amargosa Desert (U.S.A), Proceedings of the International Conference on Finite-Element Models -- MODFLOW and More, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, September 13-16, 2004: Fontainebleau, France, International Association of Hydrologic Sciences

Walvoord,M.A., Phillips, F.M., Stonestrom, D.A., Evans, R.D., Hartsough, P.C., Newman, B.D., and Striegl, R.G., 2003, A reservoir of nitrate beneath desert soils, Science, 302, 5647, p. 1021-1024. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., F.M. Phillips, S.W. Tyler, and P.C. Hartsough, 2002, Deep arid system hydrodynamics 2: Application to paleohydrologic reconstruction using vadose-zone profiles from the northern Mojave Desert, Water Resources Research, 38, 1291, doi: 10.1029/ 2001WR000825. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A., Plummer, M.A., Phillips, F.M., Wolfsberg, A.V. (2002) Deep arid system hydrodynamics 1. Equilibrium states and response times in thick desert vadose zones, Water Resources Research, 38, doi:10.1029/2001WR000824. [Link]

Walvoord, M.A. (2002), A Unifying Conceptual Model to Describe Water, Vapor, and Solute Transport in Deep Arid Vadose Zones, Ph.D. thesis, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM, 297 p.

Hartsough P.C., S.W. Tyler, J. Sterling, M.A. Walvoord (2001), A 14.6 kyr record of nitrogen flux from desert soil profiles as inferred from vadose zone pore waters, Geophysical Research Letters, 28, 15, 2955 - 2958. [Link]

Walvoord, M., P. Pegram, F. Phillips, M. Person, T. Kieft, J. Fredrickson, J. McKinley, J. Swenson (1999), Groundwater flow and geochemistry in the southeastern San Juan Basin: Implications for microbial transport and activity, Water Resources Research, 35, 1409 – 1425. [Link]

Walvoord, M. (1998), Characterization of Groundwater Flow in the Southeastern San Juan Basin: Implications for Microbial Origins in the Deep Subsurface Near Cerro Negro, New Mexico, MS thesis, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 142 p.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Water Resourcesground water
Water Resourcesground-water quality
Hydrologic Processesground-water flow
Hydrologic Processeshydrodynamics
Hydrologic Processeshydrology
Hydrologic Processesstreamflow
Hydrologic Processeswater cycle
Ecology and Environmentdeserts
Environmental Issuesdesertification
Environmental Issuesground-water quality
Environmental Issuesland use change
Environmental Issuessurface water quality
Techniques and Methodscomputational methods
Techniques and Methodsfield methods
Techniques and Methodsgeographic information systems (GIS)
Techniques and Methodsmathematical modeling
Techniques and Methodsmathematical simulation
Techniques and Methodsremote sensing
Techniques and Methodsstatistical analysis
Geographic Analysis and Mappinggeospatial analysis

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Climate Variability & Change

Cold Region Hydrology and Climate Change Impacts

The ultimate goal of this project is to improve understanding of climate-change impacts on the hydrology of cold regions with particular focus on the integral relation of frozen ground and routing of groundwater and surface water. Hydrologic changes impact vegetation, ground stability, and the distribution of lakes and wetlands. Changes in permafrost extent and spatial distribution affect the pathways and fluxes of surface and subsurface water, in turn, impacting aquatic chemical exports, soil moisture, vegetation, habitat, biodiversity, etc. Thus, permafrost and hydrology studies are key components in comprehensively addressing ecological responses to global change.

Hydrologic and hydrogeophysical studies in the Yukon River Basin are advancing our understanding of climate impacts. Progress is being made towards understanding permafrost and water flowpath response to changes in climate via novel approaches to groundwater flow and energy transport modeling. Because of the complex coupling between frozen ground, climate, and water flow, numerical models with appropriate capabilities are being developed. New understanding is generated via application of these modeling tools. In addition, airborne and ground-based geophysics and remote sensing efforts are being integrated to better characterize permafrost at multiple scales. Such information is crucial for the improvement of hydrologic models and their predictive capabilities with respect to a changing climate.

Contact Information

Michelle Ann Walvoord
W 6th Ave Kipling St
Lakewood, CO 80225
303-236-5034 - Fax
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