Drought conditions characterized as “extreme” or “exceptional” have been documented across at least 10% of the land area in the western US within 10 of the past 14 years. Recent media attention on drought risks and the creation of multiple regional centers for addressing climate impacts suggests that this project is timely. This working group will synthesize the current understanding of ecological (multi-year) drought risks, prioritize strategies for improving nature and human systems' ability to thrive in the face of climate change-driven drought, and identify a tangible set of research priorities and strategies suited for on-the-ground management applications.
To “ground” the group’s approach and products, they incorporated a partnership with a pilot project in the Upper Missouri River headwaters (UMH) of Montana. SNAPP will add value to the UMH pilot by bolstering their ability to consider ecological impacts of prolonged drought, and raising the profile of drought preparedness strategies that simultaneously provide benefits to natural systems and human communities.
Outcomes include 1) making information about ecological drought and consequences for natural and human systems under future climate conditions more accessible to decision makers; 2) enabling more effectively designed drought preparedness and management efforts that address droughts of the future; and, 3) broader adoption of ecosystem-friendly approaches to drought and climate change preparedness initiatives. The ultimate goal is to lead to human communities that are better prepared to cope with the effects of climate change induced drought, and the adoption of drought management strategies that bolster (rather than degrade) intact, functioning ecosystems.
This project is generously supported by the US Geological Survey and by the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.