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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: 101

Quantifying Future Precipitation in the South Central U.S. for Water Resources Planning

The South Central U.S. is home to diverse climates and ecosystems, strong agricultural and energy sectors, and fast-growing urban areas. All share a critical need for water, which is becoming an increasingly scarce resource across the region as aquifers are overdrawn and populations grow. Understanding what brings rain to this region, and how the timing and amount of precipitation may be affected
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Quantifying Future Precipitation in the South Central U.S. for Water Resources Planning

The South Central U.S. is home to diverse climates and ecosystems, strong agricultural and energy sectors, and fast-growing urban areas. All share a critical need for water, which is becoming an increasingly scarce resource across the region as aquifers are overdrawn and populations grow. Understanding what brings rain to this region, and how the timing and amount of precipitation may be affected
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Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature

As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and severity of droughts in North America are expected to increase, leading to a wide range of social and ecological impacts. Identifying these impacts and the consequences for ecosystems and human communities are essential for effective drought management. Equally important is to improve the capacity of nature and people to prepare for and co
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Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature

As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and severity of droughts in North America are expected to increase, leading to a wide range of social and ecological impacts. Identifying these impacts and the consequences for ecosystems and human communities are essential for effective drought management. Equally important is to improve the capacity of nature and people to prepare for and co
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Assessing the Impacts of Drought on Migratory Waterbirds in Key Conservation Regions of the Western U.S.

Migratory birds may be hit especially hard by climate change – particularly waterbirds that depend on wetlands as resting and feeding sites during their journey between breeding and non-breeding grounds. California’s Central Valley and the interior basins of southeastern Oregon and northeastern California provide some of the most critical wetlands resources to migratory waterbirds in the western U...
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Assessing the Impacts of Drought on Migratory Waterbirds in Key Conservation Regions of the Western U.S.

Migratory birds may be hit especially hard by climate change – particularly waterbirds that depend on wetlands as resting and feeding sites during their journey between breeding and non-breeding grounds. California’s Central Valley and the interior basins of southeastern Oregon and northeastern California provide some of the most critical wetlands resources to migratory waterbirds in the western U...
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Informing and Evaluating Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance

Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe—even in areas with cooler climates. Mitigating the negative effects of climate change, in particular increased drought frequency and severity, poses a major challenge to forest managers. Managers are searching for strategies that minimize the negative effects of drought on forests (i.e. increase their
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Informing and Evaluating Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance

Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe—even in areas with cooler climates. Mitigating the negative effects of climate change, in particular increased drought frequency and severity, poses a major challenge to forest managers. Managers are searching for strategies that minimize the negative effects of drought on forests (i.e. increase their
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Assessing the Vulnerability of Dryland Ecosystems to Drought in the Western U.S.

In the western U.S., rising temperatures and pronounced drought conditions pose significant challenges to public land managers. Widespread declines of multiple plant species have already been observed, providing insight into what the future could look like for vegetation in the region as conditions are projected to become warmer and drier. To understand how vulnerable western ecosystems are to dro
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Assessing the Vulnerability of Dryland Ecosystems to Drought in the Western U.S.

In the western U.S., rising temperatures and pronounced drought conditions pose significant challenges to public land managers. Widespread declines of multiple plant species have already been observed, providing insight into what the future could look like for vegetation in the region as conditions are projected to become warmer and drier. To understand how vulnerable western ecosystems are to dro
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The Impact of Drought on Waterbirds and Their Wetland Habitats in California’s Central Valley

California’s Central Valley is a nexus for water resources in the state, draining the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Urban centers, agricultural operations, and the environment all compete for limited water, and demand is expected to only increase as the population grows and agriculture intensifies. At the same time, the water supply is projected to decrease as temperatures rise, pre...
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The Impact of Drought on Waterbirds and Their Wetland Habitats in California’s Central Valley

California’s Central Valley is a nexus for water resources in the state, draining the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Urban centers, agricultural operations, and the environment all compete for limited water, and demand is expected to only increase as the population grows and agriculture intensifies. At the same time, the water supply is projected to decrease as temperatures rise, pre...
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Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin

The distribution and abundance of cheatgrass, an invasive annual grass native to Eurasia, has increased substantially across the Intermountain West, including the Great Basin. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, and as it has expanded, the extent and frequency of fire in the Great Basin has increased by as much as 200%. These changes in fire regimes are associated with loss of the native sagebrush, gr
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Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin

The distribution and abundance of cheatgrass, an invasive annual grass native to Eurasia, has increased substantially across the Intermountain West, including the Great Basin. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, and as it has expanded, the extent and frequency of fire in the Great Basin has increased by as much as 200%. These changes in fire regimes are associated with loss of the native sagebrush, gr
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Fighting Drought with Fire: A Comparison of Burned and Unburned Forests in Drought-Impacted Areas of the Southwest

Drought is one of the biggest threats facing our forests today. In the western U.S., severe drought and rising temperatures have caused increased tree mortality and complete forest diebacks. Forests are changing rapidly, and while land managers are working to develop long-term climate change adaptation plans, they require tools that can enhance forest resistance to drought now. To address this imm
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Fighting Drought with Fire: A Comparison of Burned and Unburned Forests in Drought-Impacted Areas of the Southwest

Drought is one of the biggest threats facing our forests today. In the western U.S., severe drought and rising temperatures have caused increased tree mortality and complete forest diebacks. Forests are changing rapidly, and while land managers are working to develop long-term climate change adaptation plans, they require tools that can enhance forest resistance to drought now. To address this imm
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Soil Moisture-Based Drought Monitoring for the South Central Region

Soil moisture is a critical variable for understanding the impacts of drought on ecological, hydrological, and agricultural systems. Yet, key research gaps currently prevent existing soil moisture measurements from being used to assess drought conditions and mitigate drought impacts such as wildfire outbreaks, lost agricultural production, and degraded wildlife habitat. In fact, most scales used t
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Soil Moisture-Based Drought Monitoring for the South Central Region

Soil moisture is a critical variable for understanding the impacts of drought on ecological, hydrological, and agricultural systems. Yet, key research gaps currently prevent existing soil moisture measurements from being used to assess drought conditions and mitigate drought impacts such as wildfire outbreaks, lost agricultural production, and degraded wildlife habitat. In fact, most scales used t
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Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis

Climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of drought in the U.S., leading to potentially harmful ecological impacts. The uncertain and relatively rapid changes to precipitation patterns pose a significant challenge to managers and decision-makers. In addition to having negative social and economic implications, long periods without rainfall can alter ecosystems, thereby th
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Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis

Climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of drought in the U.S., leading to potentially harmful ecological impacts. The uncertain and relatively rapid changes to precipitation patterns pose a significant challenge to managers and decision-makers. In addition to having negative social and economic implications, long periods without rainfall can alter ecosystems, thereby th
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Can Prescribed Fire Help Forests Survive Drought in the Sierra Nevada Mountains?

In 2017, California was experiencing its most severe drought in over a millennia. Low rainfall and record high temperatures resulted in increased tree mortality and complete forest diebacks across the West. Though land managers scrambled to respond, they lacked information needed to make informed decisions. Focusing on California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, this project seeks t...
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Can Prescribed Fire Help Forests Survive Drought in the Sierra Nevada Mountains?

In 2017, California was experiencing its most severe drought in over a millennia. Low rainfall and record high temperatures resulted in increased tree mortality and complete forest diebacks across the West. Though land managers scrambled to respond, they lacked information needed to make informed decisions. Focusing on California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, this project seeks t...
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Foundational Science Area: Helping People and Nature Adapt to Climate Change in the North Central U.S.

The north-central region of the U.S. has experienced a series of extreme droughts in recent years, with impacts felt across a range of sectors. For example, the impacts of a 2002 drought are estimated to have resulted in a $3 billion loss to the agricultural sector in Nebraska and South Dakota. Meanwhile, the ecological impacts of drought in the region have included increased tree mortality, surge
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Foundational Science Area: Helping People and Nature Adapt to Climate Change in the North Central U.S.

The north-central region of the U.S. has experienced a series of extreme droughts in recent years, with impacts felt across a range of sectors. For example, the impacts of a 2002 drought are estimated to have resulted in a $3 billion loss to the agricultural sector in Nebraska and South Dakota. Meanwhile, the ecological impacts of drought in the region have included increased tree mortality, surge
Learn More