An Interactive Web-Based Tool for Anticipating Long-term Drought Risk

Science Center Objects

Droughts are becoming more frequent and severe and this trend is expected to continue in the coming century. Drought effects on natural resources include reduced water availability for plants and humans, as well as increased insect, disease, and vegetation mortality. Land managers need more information regarding how water availability may change and how drought will affect their sites in the fu...

Droughts are becoming more frequent and severe and this trend is expected to continue in the coming century. Drought effects on natural resources include reduced water availability for plants and humans, as well as increased insect, disease, and vegetation mortality. Land managers need more information regarding how water availability may change and how drought will affect their sites in the future.

 

We developed an online, interactive application that allows natural resource managers to access site-specific, observed historical and predicted future water availability. Users are able to set information that affects water balance, including soil texture and vegetation composition. With these inputs, as well as site-specific historical and future climate data for 11 different global circulation models (GCMs) and 2 representative concentration pathways (RCPs), ecohydrology (SOILWAT2) simulations are performed on the fly on an Amazon Web Services EC2 server. Users are presented with synthesized data, in the form of figures, that allow for the exploration of long-term historical perspectives, so they can recognize their site’s natural range of variability, and future projections of 21st century drought, so they can quantify their site’s risk of novel drought exposure (see Figure).



Figure Caption.  Example simulation output figures from the Long-Term Drought Visualizer representing long-term historical and future patterns of climate and water availability as (A) annual mean patterns of climate (top) and soil moisture (bottom) for 3 time periods (historical (1974 – 2013), near future (2020 - 2059), long-term future (2060 – 2099)).  Futures are represented as a range (min and max) of variability across 11 GCMs for RCP85 for temperature (red), precipitation (blue) and soil moisture (purple, yellow), (B) long-term annual historical (1916 – 2013) time series of water availability (annual points in light grey and a 10-year rolling mean in black) and (C) distributions of annual future water availability for each GCM and RCP.



Historical climate data source: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/gridded/data.livneh.metvars.html

Future climate data source: https://gdo-dcp.ucllnl.org/downscaled_cmip_projections/dcpInterface.html#Projections:%20Complete%20Archives