Ecological Drought, Climate Extremes, and the Water Cycle in the North Central U.S.
In the North Central U.S., drought is a dominant driver of ecological, economic, and social stress. Drought conditions have occurred in the region due to lower precipitation, extended periods of high temperatures and evaporative demand, or a combination of these factors. This project will continue ongoing efforts to identify and address climate science challenges related to drought, climate extremes, and the water cycle that are important for natural resource managers and scientists in the North Central region, to support adaptation planning.
To accomplish this goal, researchers sought to:
- Provide data and synthesis on drought processes in the region and on how evaporative stress on ecosystems will change during the 21st century
- Work with stakeholders to provide climate data that can be used to assess climate impacts
- Improve the usability of an existing drought early warning and monitoring tool known as the Evaporative Drought Demand Index
- Develop a new drought monitoring tool to provide better information about moisture availability in soils.
This project facilitated the engagement of the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center’s (NC CASC) Climate Foundational Science Area (FSA) to identify and address the physical climate science challenges that are important for ecologists and natural resource managers in the NC CASC region, as well as meet their needs for climate information to assess impacts to their desired system and develop strategies for effective climate adaptation. A drought index called the Landscape Evaporative Response Index (LERI) was developed to provide a near real-time assessment of soil moisture conditions across the Contiguous United States (CONUS) based on satellite observations.
This projects also supported development of climate scenarios for different stakeholder-driven projects. New utilities were added to another drought index, the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI), that our team has previously developed. The project team also put together a book chapter that examines the relevance of the concept of evaporative demand and extremes in evaporative demand during the 21st century for drought assessment and monitoring.