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Drought, Fire and Extreme Weather

 

Droughts, fires, and extreme weather events like hurricanes have become more common and more devastating in recent years. CASC-supported scientists are working to understand how these phenomenon are affecting important natural and cultural resources and how they will continue to change over time. Browse our projects below or use our Project Explorer database to explore more science on this topic.

Filter Total Items: 123

Dynamic Climate Adaptation for Wetland Restoration and Coastal Communities on Lake Ontario

Residents living along the coast of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have experienced two record-setting floods, one in 2017 and another in 2019. These floods caused tremendous property damage and disruptions to the regional economy. The water levels on Lake Ontario are influenced by the operations of the Moses Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River. These operations are determined by the I
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Dynamic Climate Adaptation for Wetland Restoration and Coastal Communities on Lake Ontario

Residents living along the coast of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have experienced two record-setting floods, one in 2017 and another in 2019. These floods caused tremendous property damage and disruptions to the regional economy. The water levels on Lake Ontario are influenced by the operations of the Moses Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River. These operations are determined by the I
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A Climate-Informed Conservation Strategy for Southern California’s Montane Forests

California is a world biodiversity hotspot, and also home to hundreds of sensitive, threatened, and endangered species. One of the most vulnerable ecosystems in California is the “sky island” montane forests of southern California, forests of conifers and hardwoods located only in high-elevation mountain regions. Montane forests serve many important ecosystem functions, including protecting the up...
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A Climate-Informed Conservation Strategy for Southern California’s Montane Forests

California is a world biodiversity hotspot, and also home to hundreds of sensitive, threatened, and endangered species. One of the most vulnerable ecosystems in California is the “sky island” montane forests of southern California, forests of conifers and hardwoods located only in high-elevation mountain regions. Montane forests serve many important ecosystem functions, including protecting the up...
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A Decision Support System for Estimating Changes in Extreme Floods and Droughts in the Northeast U.S.

Floods and droughts are forecasted to occur with greater frequency and to be more extreme because of climate change. These changes will increase stresses on both cities and natural systems. Increased flooding can harm infrastructure designed to support human needs and natural systems that support fish and wildlife. Increased drought can have direct impacts on fish and wildlife by increasing river
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A Decision Support System for Estimating Changes in Extreme Floods and Droughts in the Northeast U.S.

Floods and droughts are forecasted to occur with greater frequency and to be more extreme because of climate change. These changes will increase stresses on both cities and natural systems. Increased flooding can harm infrastructure designed to support human needs and natural systems that support fish and wildlife. Increased drought can have direct impacts on fish and wildlife by increasing river
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Understanding Impacts on Southeastern Grasslands from Climate Change, Urban Expansion, and Invasive Species

Much of the biodiversity of the southeastern U.S. is found in grasslands, including meadows, prairies, glades, and savannas. These grasslands provide vital habitat to a variety of plants and animals, but many grassland types have undergone over 90% loss due to fire suppression and urban sprawl. The remaining grassland patches—remnants—now face emerging threats from invasive species and climate cha...
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Understanding Impacts on Southeastern Grasslands from Climate Change, Urban Expansion, and Invasive Species

Much of the biodiversity of the southeastern U.S. is found in grasslands, including meadows, prairies, glades, and savannas. These grasslands provide vital habitat to a variety of plants and animals, but many grassland types have undergone over 90% loss due to fire suppression and urban sprawl. The remaining grassland patches—remnants—now face emerging threats from invasive species and climate cha...
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Understanding New Paradigms for “Environmental Flows” and Water Allocation in the Middle Rio Grande River Basin in a Changing Climate

Water management in the middle portion of the Rio Grande Basin (between Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico and Presidio, Texas) is challenging because water demand has continued to increase over time despite limited river water and dropping groundwater levels. While urban and agricultural users can cope with frequent droughts by using a combination of river water and pumping groundwater, littl
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Understanding New Paradigms for “Environmental Flows” and Water Allocation in the Middle Rio Grande River Basin in a Changing Climate

Water management in the middle portion of the Rio Grande Basin (between Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico and Presidio, Texas) is challenging because water demand has continued to increase over time despite limited river water and dropping groundwater levels. While urban and agricultural users can cope with frequent droughts by using a combination of river water and pumping groundwater, littl
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The Impacts of Climate Change and Water Supply Management on Fish in the Colorado River

The Colorado River and its major tributaries provide a crucial water supply for more than 40 million people in the American Southwest and in California. This water supply is primarily used in irrigated agriculture but also provides essential drinking water to many large metropolitan areas. Hydropower is also produced at many of the large dams on the river. River flows have declined during the past
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The Impacts of Climate Change and Water Supply Management on Fish in the Colorado River

The Colorado River and its major tributaries provide a crucial water supply for more than 40 million people in the American Southwest and in California. This water supply is primarily used in irrigated agriculture but also provides essential drinking water to many large metropolitan areas. Hydropower is also produced at many of the large dams on the river. River flows have declined during the past
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Anticipating Forest Vulnerability to Fire-Catalyzed Ecosystem Change in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Forests in the western U.S. are increasingly impacted by climate change. Warmer and drier conditions both increase fire activity in western forests and make it more difficult for forests to recover after wildfires. If forests fail to recover, they may shift to non-forest ecosystems like grasslands or shrublands. It is important to understand where fires may result in the loss of forests because fo
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Anticipating Forest Vulnerability to Fire-Catalyzed Ecosystem Change in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Forests in the western U.S. are increasingly impacted by climate change. Warmer and drier conditions both increase fire activity in western forests and make it more difficult for forests to recover after wildfires. If forests fail to recover, they may shift to non-forest ecosystems like grasslands or shrublands. It is important to understand where fires may result in the loss of forests because fo
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Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on the Spread of Fire-Promoting Plants in Hawai‘i: Assessing Emerging Threats to Rare Native Plants and Ecosystems

2018 was a record-breaking year for wildfires in Hawai‘i with over 30,000 acres burned statewide, including the habitat of the Oʻahu chewstick, a critically endangered flowering plant with less than 50 individuals remaining. The frequency and severity of wildfire in Hawai‘i has been increasing, and this trend is predicted to worsen with climate change. Wildfires are promoted by highly flammable in...
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Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on the Spread of Fire-Promoting Plants in Hawai‘i: Assessing Emerging Threats to Rare Native Plants and Ecosystems

2018 was a record-breaking year for wildfires in Hawai‘i with over 30,000 acres burned statewide, including the habitat of the Oʻahu chewstick, a critically endangered flowering plant with less than 50 individuals remaining. The frequency and severity of wildfire in Hawai‘i has been increasing, and this trend is predicted to worsen with climate change. Wildfires are promoted by highly flammable in...
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State of the Science Synthesis on Transformational Drought: Understanding Drought’s Potential to Transform Ecosystems Across the Country

Drought events have cost the U.S. nearly $245 billion since 1980, with costs ranging from $2 to $44 billion in any given year. However, these socio-economic losses are not the only impacts of drought. Ecosystems, fish, wildlife, and plants also suffer, and these types of drought impacts are becoming more commonplace. Further, ecosystems that recover from drought are now doing so under different cl
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State of the Science Synthesis on Transformational Drought: Understanding Drought’s Potential to Transform Ecosystems Across the Country

Drought events have cost the U.S. nearly $245 billion since 1980, with costs ranging from $2 to $44 billion in any given year. However, these socio-economic losses are not the only impacts of drought. Ecosystems, fish, wildlife, and plants also suffer, and these types of drought impacts are becoming more commonplace. Further, ecosystems that recover from drought are now doing so under different cl
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A Synthesis of Climate Change Refugia Science and Management Actions to Inform Climate Adaptation in the Southwest

The impacts of climate change are widespread and accelerating. It is daunting for resource managers to determine how to use increasingly limited staff time and funding to conserve species and ecosystems. The Refugia Research Coalition is a national framework that brings together researchers and managers to identify and develop conservation strategies for “climate change refugia”, areas that remain...
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A Synthesis of Climate Change Refugia Science and Management Actions to Inform Climate Adaptation in the Southwest

The impacts of climate change are widespread and accelerating. It is daunting for resource managers to determine how to use increasingly limited staff time and funding to conserve species and ecosystems. The Refugia Research Coalition is a national framework that brings together researchers and managers to identify and develop conservation strategies for “climate change refugia”, areas that remain...
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Forest Fires in Western Cascadia: Evaluating Drivers and Impacts to Inform Climate-Adaptive Management Responses

Forests west of the Cascade Crest in Oregon and Washington have been shaped by infrequent but severe wildfires that historically occurred at intervals spanning several centuries. Since the mid-1900s, relatively few fires have occurred in the region, resulting in a general lack of understanding of the drivers of these fires, the impacts on ecosystems, and possible management responses. Most of the
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Forest Fires in Western Cascadia: Evaluating Drivers and Impacts to Inform Climate-Adaptive Management Responses

Forests west of the Cascade Crest in Oregon and Washington have been shaped by infrequent but severe wildfires that historically occurred at intervals spanning several centuries. Since the mid-1900s, relatively few fires have occurred in the region, resulting in a general lack of understanding of the drivers of these fires, the impacts on ecosystems, and possible management responses. Most of the
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Climate Change, Variability, and Drought in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands – Working with Managers to Mitigate the Impacts of Drought and Wildfire

Some areas of the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) are experiencing a decline in precipitation and streamflow and an increase in the number of severe droughts. These changes can have wide-reaching implications, affecting the water supply, native vegetation and wildlife, wildfire patterns, and the spread of invasive species. As ecosystems become altered by invasive species and as particularl
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Climate Change, Variability, and Drought in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands – Working with Managers to Mitigate the Impacts of Drought and Wildfire

Some areas of the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) are experiencing a decline in precipitation and streamflow and an increase in the number of severe droughts. These changes can have wide-reaching implications, affecting the water supply, native vegetation and wildlife, wildfire patterns, and the spread of invasive species. As ecosystems become altered by invasive species and as particularl
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