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USGS integrated drought science

June 5, 2017

Project Need and Overview

Drought poses a serious threat to the resilience of human communities and ecosystems in the United States (Easterling and others, 2000). Over the past several years, many regions have experienced extreme drought conditions, fueled by prolonged periods of reduced precipitation and exceptionally warm temperatures. Extreme drought has far-reaching impacts on water supplies, ecosystems, agricultural production, critical infrastructure, energy costs, human health, and local economies (Milly and others, 2005; Wihlite, 2005; Vörösmarty and others, 2010; Choat and others, 2012; Ledger and others, 2013). As global temperatures continue to increase, the frequency, severity, extent, and duration of droughts are expected to increase across North America, affecting both humans and natural ecosystems (Parry and others, 2007).

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long, proven history of delivering science and tools to help decision-makers manage and mitigate effects of drought. That said, there is substantial capacity for improved integration and coordination in the ways that the USGS provides drought science. A USGS Drought Team was formed in August 2016 to work across USGS Mission Areas to identify current USGS drought-related research and core capabilities. This information has been used to initiate the development of an integrated science effort that will bring the full USGS capacity to bear on this national crisis.

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