Mckenzie Skiles

McKenzie Skiles

Snow Hydrologist

McKenzie Skiles first became interested in snow and climate change growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, and found that pursuing snow hydrology was the perfect way to combine her love of snow and mountains with her interest in earth science and climate change. She is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at the University of Utah, where she directs the Laboratory for Snow Hydrology from Research to Operations (Snow HydRO Lab). She has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Utah, and a PhD from UCLA.

Her research is interdisciplinary and aims to contribute to our understanding of how much water is held in the mountain snowpack, when and how fast it will melt, and how that is changing over time using a combination of field observations, remote sensing, lab analysis, and numerical modeling. One of her main research trajectories is investigating the impacts of aerosol deposition on snow. She has published widely on this topic, including an invited review on the topic for Nature Climate Change. She was also a contributing author to the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

McKenzie believes in the importance of effective science communication and outreach and advocating for science-informed policy. She has visited Washington DC to speak with lawmakers on multiple occasions. She is also an ambassador for the citizen science Community Snow Observations project, Vice President of the International Commission on Snow and Ice Hydrology, Incoming President of the Snow International Working Group (SINTER), and serves on the American Geophysical Union Cryosphere Focus Group Executive Committee.


Utah, USA

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POW Alliance members McKenzie Skiles & Jared Shumate Study Snow Trends and the Viability of Future Olympic Games in Salt Lake City

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McKenzie's Latest Work

  • Implications of a shrinking Great Salt Lake for dust on snow deposition in the Wasatch Mountains, UT

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  • The spectral and chemical measurement of pollutants on snow near South Pole, Antarctica

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  • A method to retrieve the spectral complex refractive index and single scattering optical properties of dust deposited in mountain snow

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