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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

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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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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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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The Wind River Indian Reservation’s Vulnerability to the Impacts of Drought and the Development of Decision Tools to Support Drought Preparedness

The Wind River Indian Reservation in west-central Wyoming is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, who reside near and depend on water from the streams that feed into the Wind River. In recent years, however, the region has experienced frequent severe droughts, which have impacted tribal livelihoods and cultural activities. Scientists with the North Central Climate Science Ce
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The Wind River Indian Reservation’s Vulnerability to the Impacts of Drought and the Development of Decision Tools to Support Drought Preparedness

The Wind River Indian Reservation in west-central Wyoming is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, who reside near and depend on water from the streams that feed into the Wind River. In recent years, however, the region has experienced frequent severe droughts, which have impacted tribal livelihoods and cultural activities. Scientists with the North Central Climate Science Ce
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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...
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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...
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Measurement of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-related Climate Conditions and Ecosystem Responses in Hawaiʻi

As elevation increases, both temperature and moisture availability decrease. In many parts of the world, this decrease in temperature is a limiting factor for vegetation—at certain elevations, the temperature becomes too cold for plants to survive. However in the tropics, moisture availability may play a more important role than temperature in determining the altitude at which forests can grow. Fo...
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Measurement of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-related Climate Conditions and Ecosystem Responses in Hawaiʻi

As elevation increases, both temperature and moisture availability decrease. In many parts of the world, this decrease in temperature is a limiting factor for vegetation—at certain elevations, the temperature becomes too cold for plants to survive. However in the tropics, moisture availability may play a more important role than temperature in determining the altitude at which forests can grow. Fo...
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Storms on California Coastal Habitats: Part 2

In California, the near-shore area where the ocean meets the land is a highly productive yet sensitive region that supports a wealth of wildlife, including several native bird species. These saltmarshes, mudflats, and shallow bays are not only critical for wildlife, but they also provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Today, sea-level rise, more frequent and stronger stor
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Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Storms on California Coastal Habitats: Part 2

In California, the near-shore area where the ocean meets the land is a highly productive yet sensitive region that supports a wealth of wildlife, including several native bird species. These saltmarshes, mudflats, and shallow bays are not only critical for wildlife, but they also provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Today, sea-level rise, more frequent and stronger stor
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Examining Soil and Drought Dynamics to Improve Fire Forecasting in the southern Great Plains

The need to improve fire weather predictions for the southern Great Plains has grown in recent years, following a number of extreme fire events. While on-the-ground conditions that promote fire development in the region are still not well understood, research suggests that fire-friendly conditions are determined by more than just precipitation amounts or wind speeds. They are also influenced by so
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Examining Soil and Drought Dynamics to Improve Fire Forecasting in the southern Great Plains

The need to improve fire weather predictions for the southern Great Plains has grown in recent years, following a number of extreme fire events. While on-the-ground conditions that promote fire development in the region are still not well understood, research suggests that fire-friendly conditions are determined by more than just precipitation amounts or wind speeds. They are also influenced by so
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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
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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
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