Much of the precipitation along the U.S. West Coast is delivered by phenomena known as “atmospheric rivers”—narrow bands of moist air that may extend for thousands of miles across regions outside of the tropics, and play a critical role in regional water supply and storm activity. Atmospheric-river events play a beneficial role in building up Western water supply and snowpack but are also the source of a large majority of floods in the region. Many uncertainties about key processes that affect storm development...
Since 1989, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has submitted annual reports to Congress called Our Changing Planet. The reports describe the status of USGCRP research activities, provide progress updates, and document recent accomplishments
In particular, Our Changing Planet highlights progress and accomplishments in interagency activities. These highlights represent the broad spectrum of USGCRP activities that extend from Earth system observations, modeling, and fundamental research through synthesis and assessment, decision support, education, and public engagement.
Since 2011, California has experienced one of its most severe and widespread droughts since record-keeping began in 1895. USGCRP-supported research helps advance drought science and provides the basis for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (Highlight 10), which aims to increase the capacity of the public to better prepare for and respond to drought events through regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS). The NOAA Drought Task...
Water resources in the United States are affected by a number of climate stressors—including increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme events like storms and droughts—and these changing conditions have implications for drinking water and stormwater utilities. Federal agencies are working with one another and with state and local partners to build preparedness and sustainability in this essential sector. For instance, the Federal Support Toolbox—grown out of an initiative led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)—serves as a
In the fall of 2014, several USGCRP agencies and National Coordination Office (NCO) staff supported the Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Exercise Series, a suite of daylong workshops targeted at state- and local-level decision makers. This initiative was sponsored by the National Security Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and OSTP, in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Exercise Division. Exercises in this pilot series focused on the
The severe, sustained drought affecting the Central Valley of California has caused a shortage of water for irrigation and crop production. The effect of this shortage is most immediately evident as an increase in the extent of fallowed farmland (or land taken out of agricultural production), which in turn serves as a proxy for socioeconomic impacts. Decision makers can use information about fallowed land to better understand the severity of drought impacts and to support requests for USDA drought disaster designations or emergency proclamations. USDA
Climate change presents new challenges for managing water quality and quantity, particularly in areas where water resources are already stressed. Resource managers need scientifically sound, usable information and training to deal with changing patterns of water extremes and other climate-related issues facing the water sector.
To help meet this need, USACE and DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation have developed a training series titled Assessing Natural
Trout and salmon are economically and ecologically important stream-dwelling species. Researchers from USGS, NOAA, and the University of Montana are working together to assess the effects of current and future climate change on these species’ freshwater habitats throughout the Pacific Northwest, with the goal of providing tools to help managers predict and respond to potential climate impacts on habitats, populations, and the economy.
Research to date indicate that increasing stream water temperatures may lead to fragmentation of suitable habitat for
Drought is a significant hazard for the United States, with potentially severe and long-lasting impacts on the Nation’s economy and food and water supplies. USGCRP agencies are advancing our understanding of the causes and consequences of drought, an FY 2015 interagency research priority (see Section 4). They are also collaborating in efforts to support drought preparedness and recovery, such as the National Drought Resilience Partnership (a deliverable of the President’s Climate Action Plan) and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).
The 2011–2012 U.S. drought was the most severe and extensive in at least 25 years, and the effects are still being felt in some areas of the Nation. Recently, USDA partnered with local governments, colleges, and state and Federal partners— including NOAA and FEMA—to conduct a series of regional drought workshops. Hundreds of farmers, ranchers, business owners, and other stakeholders met with government officials to discuss needs