# 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.

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#### Identifying Tribal Vulnerabilities and Supporting Planning for Extreme Weather Events

Climate change is poised to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – such as tornadoes, flooding, drought, and snowstorms – which may damage buildings and other structures, cause economic hardship, disrupt plant and wildlife communities, and endanger people’s physical and emotional health. The purpose of this project was to enhance the knowledge of local tribal environmen

#### Identifying Tribal Vulnerabilities and Supporting Planning for Extreme Weather Events

Climate change is poised to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – such as tornadoes, flooding, drought, and snowstorms – which may damage buildings and other structures, cause economic hardship, disrupt plant and wildlife communities, and endanger people’s physical and emotional health. The purpose of this project was to enhance the knowledge of local tribal environmen

#### Understanding Future Fire Frequency and Impacts on Species Distribution in the South Central U.S.

Fire is critical to maintaining and restoring temperate ecosystems in the South Central U.S. As precipitation patterns and temperatures change in the region, managers require information on how these changes will impact fire frequency, and thus the species and ecosystems within the landscape. To address this need, researchers will use climate model data to predict and map future changes in fire f

#### Understanding Future Fire Frequency and Impacts on Species Distribution in the South Central U.S.

Fire is critical to maintaining and restoring temperate ecosystems in the South Central U.S. As precipitation patterns and temperatures change in the region, managers require information on how these changes will impact fire frequency, and thus the species and ecosystems within the landscape. To address this need, researchers will use climate model data to predict and map future changes in fire f

#### The Effects of Drought on Vegetation Phenology and Wildlife

Plants and animals undergo certain life cycle events every year, such as breeding or flowering. Known as phenology, these events are very sensitive to changes in climate. Changes in plant phenology can have cascading effects that impact the herbivore species that depend on the affected plants for food, such as elk, moose, and deer. Therefore, characterizing long term vegetation cycles can provide

#### The Effects of Drought on Vegetation Phenology and Wildlife

Plants and animals undergo certain life cycle events every year, such as breeding or flowering. Known as phenology, these events are very sensitive to changes in climate. Changes in plant phenology can have cascading effects that impact the herbivore species that depend on the affected plants for food, such as elk, moose, and deer. Therefore, characterizing long term vegetation cycles can provide

#### Projecting the Effects of Climate Change on Aspen in the Central and Northern Rocky Mountains

Aspen is an environmentally, economically, and socially important species in the western U.S. It is typically the most abundant deciduous tree species in mountainous landscapes of the western U.S., providing food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including black bear, deer, elk, moose, and numerous bird species. Aspen woodlands also provide high quality forage for livestock and draw tourists

#### Projecting the Effects of Climate Change on Aspen in the Central and Northern Rocky Mountains

Aspen is an environmentally, economically, and socially important species in the western U.S. It is typically the most abundant deciduous tree species in mountainous landscapes of the western U.S., providing food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including black bear, deer, elk, moose, and numerous bird species. Aspen woodlands also provide high quality forage for livestock and draw tourists

#### Linking Extreme Storms to Changes in Precipitation, Ecosystems, and Wildfire Patterns in the Sierra Nevada

The majority of the West Coast’s most extreme storms have been linked to atmospheric rivers, a meteorological phenomenon in which large amounts of moisture are carried in narrow bands from over the Pacific Ocean to western North America. While weak atmospheric rivers are critical providers of winter rain and snow, stronger events can cause extreme flooding, mudslides, and avalanches – leading to p...

#### Linking Extreme Storms to Changes in Precipitation, Ecosystems, and Wildfire Patterns in the Sierra Nevada

The majority of the West Coast’s most extreme storms have been linked to atmospheric rivers, a meteorological phenomenon in which large amounts of moisture are carried in narrow bands from over the Pacific Ocean to western North America. While weak atmospheric rivers are critical providers of winter rain and snow, stronger events can cause extreme flooding, mudslides, and avalanches – leading to p...

#### Disappearing Refugia: Identifying Trends and Resilience in Unburned Islands under Climate Change

Wildfires are one of the greatest threats to human infrastructure and the ecosystem services humans value in the western US, but are also necessary in fire-adapted ecosystems. Wildfire activity is widely projected to increase in response to climate change in the Northwest, but we currently lack a comprehensive understanding of what this increase will look like or what its impacts will be on a vari

#### Disappearing Refugia: Identifying Trends and Resilience in Unburned Islands under Climate Change

Wildfires are one of the greatest threats to human infrastructure and the ecosystem services humans value in the western US, but are also necessary in fire-adapted ecosystems. Wildfire activity is widely projected to increase in response to climate change in the Northwest, but we currently lack a comprehensive understanding of what this increase will look like or what its impacts will be on a vari

#### Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S.

The South Central U.S. is one of the main agricultural regions in North America: annual agricultural production is valued at more than $44 billion dollars. However, as climate conditions change, the region is experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, with significant impacts on agriculture and broader consequences for land management. For example, in 2011 drought caused an estimated$7.6 bil

#### Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S.

The South Central U.S. is one of the main agricultural regions in North America: annual agricultural production is valued at more than $44 billion dollars. However, as climate conditions change, the region is experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, with significant impacts on agriculture and broader consequences for land management. For example, in 2011 drought caused an estimated$7.6 bil

#### Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future

Streamflow in the Colorado River is heavily influenced by high-elevation snowpack. Warming temperatures in spring can reduce snow-fed flows, with serious implications for the water supplies that support communities and wildlife. While it is already well-known that precipitation has a significant influence on river flow, recent observations suggest that temperature and the amount of water in soil m

#### Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future

Streamflow in the Colorado River is heavily influenced by high-elevation snowpack. Warming temperatures in spring can reduce snow-fed flows, with serious implications for the water supplies that support communities and wildlife. While it is already well-known that precipitation has a significant influence on river flow, recent observations suggest that temperature and the amount of water in soil m

#### Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S.

The threat of droughts and their associated impacts on the landscape and human communities has long been recognized in the United States, especially in high risk areas such as the South Central region. There is ample literature on the effects of long-term climate change and short-term climate variability on the occurrence of droughts. However, it is unclear whether this information meets the needs

#### Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S.

The threat of droughts and their associated impacts on the landscape and human communities has long been recognized in the United States, especially in high risk areas such as the South Central region. There is ample literature on the effects of long-term climate change and short-term climate variability on the occurrence of droughts. However, it is unclear whether this information meets the needs

#### Improving Understanding of Climate Extremes in the Southwestern United States

In the southwestern United States, droughts of 10 or more years are projected to become more frequent by 2100. It also is projected that there will be fewer wet days per year, with more precipitation falling on those wet days. Such climatic extremes can strongly affect wild animals and plants, ecosystems, and humans. In the Southwest, more frequent and intense storms may negatively affect protecte

#### Improving Understanding of Climate Extremes in the Southwestern United States

In the southwestern United States, droughts of 10 or more years are projected to become more frequent by 2100. It also is projected that there will be fewer wet days per year, with more precipitation falling on those wet days. Such climatic extremes can strongly affect wild animals and plants, ecosystems, and humans. In the Southwest, more frequent and intense storms may negatively affect protecte

#### How Does Drought Influence Fire Severity in the Southwestern U.S.?

There is a growing realization that current warming trends may be associated with increases in the size, frequency, and severity of forest fires in the West. While rising temperatures can create drought conditions that favor severe fires, it is also possible that drought limits the ability of trees to survive a fire. During a drought, there is less water available for trees and more outbreaks of h

#### How Does Drought Influence Fire Severity in the Southwestern U.S.?

There is a growing realization that current warming trends may be associated with increases in the size, frequency, and severity of forest fires in the West. While rising temperatures can create drought conditions that favor severe fires, it is also possible that drought limits the ability of trees to survive a fire. During a drought, there is less water available for trees and more outbreaks of h