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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

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.

Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Shawn Carter, Molly S. Cross, Kimberly R. Hall

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2018

End: July 31, 2018



Scott Barndt
USDA Forest Service
Deborah J. Bathke
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Erik Beever
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Julio L. Betancourt
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Jeff Burrell
Wildlife Conservation Society
Shawn Carter
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Steve Colt
Alaska Pacific University
Yvette Converse
US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Shelley Crausbay
University of California, Santa Barbara
Amanda E. Cravens
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Molly S. Cross
Wildlife Conservation Society
Melinda Dalton
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Randy Dell
The Nature Conservancy
Jason B. Dunham
US Geological Survey (USGS)
LeeAnne French
University of California, Santa Barbara
Kimberly R. Hall
The Nature Conservancy
Sierra Harris
The Nature Conservancy
Lauren Hay
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Michael Hayes
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Sue Higgins
Center for Large Landscape Conservation
Kris Inman
Wildlife Conservation Society
Virginia Kelly
USDA Forest Service
Nathan Korb
The Nature Conservancy
Jamie McEvoy
Montana State University
Chad McNutt
National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)
Max A. Moritz
University of California, Berkeley
Keith Nislow
USDA Forest Service
John Nordgren
The Climate Resilience Fund
Nejem Raheem
Emerson College
Aaron Ramirez
University of California, Santa Barbara
Melly Reuling
Center for Large Landscape Conservation
Madeleine Rubenstein
Todd Sanford
Climate Central
Ann Schwend
Montana Department of National Resource Conservation
Alden Shallcross
Bureau of Land Management
Jack Stanford
University of Montana
David Thoma
National Park Service
Laura Thompson
US Geological Survey (USGS)


  1. Presentations / 2016

    Congress briefing

  2. Journal Article / 2017

    Defining ecological drought for the 21st century

  3. Journal Article / 2021

    Integrating Ecological Impacts: Perspectives on Drought in the Upper Missouri Headwaters, Montana, United States

  4. Journal Article / 2018

    Rivers are social-“ecological systems: Time to integrate human dimensions into riverscape ecology and management

  5. Journal Article / 2018

    Ecological Drought: Accounting for the Non-Human Impacts of Water Shortage in the Upper Missouri Headwaters Basin, Montana, USA

  6. Journal Article / 2019

    Planning for ecological drought: Integrating ecosystem services and vulnerability assessment

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