Faculty & Staff

Zachary A. Holden

Zachary A. Holden


Email: zaholdenfs@gmail.com
Office: 200 East Broadway St.

Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

Scientist, USFS

Personal Summary

I currently work as a scientist for the US Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. I work primarily in the fields of landscape ecology, remote sensing and mountain climatology. Mountains create steep biophysical and climatic gradients that pose unique modeling challenges. My current research focuses on predicting climate to the scale of terrain and using those models to improve our understainding of disturbance and vegetation dynamics. I have a strong interest in  developing models and tools that bridge the gap between research and management. 


Ph.D., University of Idaho, 2008

B.S. Oberlin College 1996

Field of Study

Ecology, Climate, Climate Change,  Remote Sensing, biogeography, fire ecology

Research Interests

My research interest span the disciplines of climatology, disturbance ecology micrometeorology, landscape ecology and remote sensing.



TOPOFIRE: A system for monitoring terrain, climate and insect-induced influences on fire danger in complex terrain

I work with a team of scientists at the University of Montana, the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory and the University of Idaho in the development of topofire, an interactive web-based modeling system for predicting fuel moisture, soil moisture and canopy conditions across Idaho and Montana. Data from thousands of low cost temperature and humidity sensors collected through a topoclimatic inventory and monitoring effort are being used to downscale the North American Land Datat Assimilation System (NLDAS-2) in near real-time. Downscaled temperature and humidity data are then assimilated into the FASST hydrologic model and fuel moisture and fire danger calculations to produce terrain corrected estimates for improved fire managment. 

You can see our pogress here: http://topofire.dbs.umt.edu

To see a schematic of the data processing and workflow for generating topofire layers, click here

Monitoring mountain air temperatures in the Northwest US

In collaboration with Dr. Anna Klene and funding from the US Forest Service fire and aviation management, several thousand temperature and humidity sensors have been distributed across Montana, Idaho and northern Canada. Data from these sensors are being used to develop downscaled climate projections for the region and to improve fuel moisture and hydrologic models in support of fire and avaiation management. You can view the project website here

Selected Publications

Holden, Z.A., A. Klene, R. Keefe and G. Moisen (2013) Design and evaluation of an inexpensive solar radiation shield for monitoring surface air temperatures. Agric. For. Meteorology. 

Dobrowski, S., J. Abatzoglou, A. Swanson, J. Greenberg, A. Mynseberge, Z. Holden and M. Schwartz (2012). Climate velocity of the contiguous United States during the 20th century. Global Change Biol. 

Holden, Z.A., W. Kasworm, C. Servheen, B. Hahn and S. Dobrowski (2012). Sensitivity of hucklebery productivity to climatic variation in the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly bear recovery zone, Northwest US (1989-2010). Wild. Soc. Bull. vol. 36:232-236.

Hudak, A. T., I. Rickert, P. Morgan, E. Strand, S. Lewis, P. Robichaud, C. Hoffman, and Z. Holden (2011). A review of fuels treatment effectiveness and a case study in from the 2007 Megafires in Central Idaho, USA. RMRS-GTR-252.

Dillon, G., Z. Holden and P. Morgan (2011). Predicting the potential for severe wildfire in the Western United States. Fire Management Today.