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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Christa Kelleher

Kelleher portrait

Assistant Professor: Comparative Hydrology, Urban Hydrology, & Hydrologic Modeling

Earth and Environmental Sciences

215 Heroy Geology Laboratory


Research and Teaching Interests

I am a computational hydrologist primarily interested in how models can be used as abstractions of the world around us to predict both quality and quantity of physical hydrologic processes. I’m particularly intrigued by both where (in the landscape) and when (under what climatic conditions) models of hydrologic processes succeed and fail, and how we define success and failure for watershed modeling applications. My research primarily relies on computational simulations of models ranging from simple, conceptual representations to fully distributed and physically based frameworks to interrogate the relationships between water quality and quantity, and how this varies across different landscapes.

I also pursue work in urban systems, particularly the city of Syracuse, to explore patterns of water quality, intersections between topography and climate, and application of hydrologic models to urban units. My research in both urban and natural areas continues to develop around the application of unoccupied aerial systems to study patterns of water quality and inform data-driven and model-based analysis. Beyond hydrology, I am particularly interested in scientific visualization, and how scientists can more effectively communicate their work through graphs, maps, and figures.


Water and Our Environment (EAR 205)
Physical Hydrology (EAR 413/613 and CIE 413/613)
Introduction to UAVs (EAR 479/679)
Water-Energy Seminar (EAR 612 and CIE 600)


Ruta Basijokaite (PhD)
Eliza Hurst (MS)
Jeff Wade (MS)


Workstations with Matlab, ArcGIS, Pix4D, Agisoft, and scientific computing software.

Selected Publications

Kelleher, C., Golden, H. E., Burkholder, S. & Shuster, W., Urban vacant lands impart hydrological benefits across city landscapes. Dec 1 2020, In : Nature Communications. 11, 1, 1563.

Knapp, J. L. A. & Kelleher, C., A Perspective on the Future of Transient Storage Modeling: Let's Stop Chasing Our Tails. Mar 1 2020, In : Water Resources Research. 56, 3,

Condon, L. E., Markovich, K. H., Kelleher, C. A., McDonnell, J. J., Ferguson, G. & McIntosh, J. C., Where Is the Bottom of a Watershed? Mar 1 2020, In : Water Resources Research. 56, 3,

Drummond, J., Schmadel, N., Kelleher, C., Packman, A., & Ward, A. (2019). Improving predictions of fine particle immobilization in streams. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 13853– 13861.

Kelleher, C, McPhillips, L. Exploring the application of topographic indices in urban areas as indicators of pluvial flooding locations. Hydrological Processes. 2020; 34: 780– 794.

Caldwell, S. H., Kelleher, C., Baker, E. A. & Lautz, L. K., Relative information from thermal infrared imagery via unoccupied aerial vehicle informs simulations and spatially-distributed assessments of stream temperature.
Apr 15 2019, In : Science of the Total Environment. 661, p. 364-374.

Kelleher, C., Ward, A., Knapp, J. L. A., Blaen, P. J., Kurz, M. J., Drummond, J. D., et al. (2019). Exploring tracer information and model framework trade‐offs to improve estimation of stream transient storage processes. Water Resources Research, 55, 3481– 3501.

Dugdale, S. J., Kelleher, C. A., Malcolm, I. A., Caldwell, S. & Hannah, D. M., Assessing the potential of drone-based thermal infrared imagery for quantifying river temperature heterogeneity. Mar 30 2019, In : Hydrological Processes. 33, 7, p. 1152-1163.

Lautz, L, Kelleher, C, Vidon, P, Coffman, J, Riginos, C, Copeland, H. Restoring stream ecosystem function with beaver dam analogues: Let's not make the same mistake twice. Hydrological Processes. 2019; 33: 174– 177.

Ehmann, K, Kelleher, C, Condon, LE. Monitoring turbidity from above: Deploying small unoccupied aerial vehicles to image in‐stream turbidity. Hydrological Processes. 2019; 33: 1013– 1021.

Roodsari, B. K., Chandler, D. G., Kelleher, C. & Kroll, C. N., A comparison of SAC-SMA and Adaptive Neuro-fuzzy Inference System for real-time flood forecasting in small urban catchments. Oct 1 2019, In : Journal of Flood Risk Management. 12, S1,

K. Fitch, C. Kelleher, S. Caldwell, I. Joyce (2018), Airborne thermal infrared videography of stream temperature anomalies from a small unoccupied aerial system. Hydrological Processes, 32, 2616–2619, doi:10.1002/hyp.13218.

C. Kelleher, C. Scholz, L. Condon, M. Reardon, The Sky Is Only the Limit: Innovative Approaches to Drone-Based Research and Industry Applications in the Geosciences, EOS. Accepted 20 October 2017.

C. Kelleher, S. B. Shaw (2018), Is ET often oversimplified in hydrologic models? Using long records to elucidate unaccounted for controls on ET, Journal of Hydrology, 557, 160-172. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.12.018.

C. Kelleher, B. McGlynn, and T. Wagener (2017), Characterizing and reducing equifinality by constraining a distributed catchment model with regional signatures, local observations, and process understanding, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 3325-3352. doi:10.5194/hess-21-3325-2017.

A. S. Ward, C. A. Kelleher, S. J. K. Mason, T. Wagener, N. McIntyre, B. McGlynn, R. L. Runkel, and R. A. Payn (2017), A software tool to assess uncertainty in transient-storage model parameters using Monte Carlo simulations, Freshwater Science 36, 195-217. doi: 10.1086/690444.

Christa Kelleher, Thorsten Wagener, and Brian McGlynn, Model-based analysis of the influence of catchment properties on hydrologic partitioning across five mountain headwater subcatchments, Water Resources Research, 51, 4109–4136, 2015.

Keith A. Sawicz, Christa Kelleher, Thorsten Wagener, Peter Troch, Murugesu Sivapalan, and Gustavo Carrillo, Characterizing hydrologic change through catchment classification, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18, 273–285, 2014.

Christa Kelleher, Thorsten Wagener, Michael N. Gooseff, Brian McGlynn, Kevin McGuire, and Lucy Marshall, Investigating controls on the thermal sensitivity of Pennsylvania streams, Hydrological Processes, 26, 771–785, 2012.

Christa Kelleher, Thorsten Wagener, Ten guidelines for effective data visualization in scientific publications, Environmental Modelling & Software, 26(6), 822–827, 2011.