Elder, Kelly

Dr. Kelly Elder

Dr. Kelly Elder, Avalanche Science facultyInstructor, Avalanche Science
Research Hydrologist, USDA Forest Service


  • B.A. Physical Geography, University of Colorado
  • M.A. Physical Geography Hydrology, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Ph.D. Physical Geography Hydrology Statistics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Professional Certifications and Associations

  • American Avalanche Association, Certified Instructor
  • American Geophysical Union


Dr. Kelly Elder is a research hydrologist with the USDA Forest Service at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Fort Collins, CO. He studies water distribution and the water yield from mountain snowpacks and his specialty is snow. He has worked to develop information and methods for measuring snowpack properties, distribution of snow cover and water equivalents in alpine and subalpine basins. Dr. Elder’s passion for snow hydrology and mountain climatology can be found in his numerous scholarly articles and professional publications.

In addition to his research efforts, Dr. Elder served as a faculty member for the Colorado State University Watershed Science Program from 1995 – 2000. He has taught courses on snow, avalanches, snow hydrology, physical geography and the geography of water resources.

As an expert in the snow science field, Dr. Elder was involved in the development of the Avalanche Science program from concept to curriculum. He hopes that students graduate the program with a fundamental working knowledge that will allow them to pursue careers in the industry and benefit from the hands-on, applied approach.

“The Colorado Mountain College Avalanche Science program is designed to prepare snow and avalanche professionals for career paths in a new comprehensive fashion not available in any other venue.” says Dr. Kelly Elder, “It will change the way we train and prepare people for the professional snow worker industry.”

When he isn’t “buried” in avalanche and hydrology research or teaching students, Dr. Elder enjoys skiing at Arapahoe Basin, and spending time with his children and dogs.