Ecological Drought Across the Country: Understanding the Impacts Region by Region
When many people think of drought, they consider its impacts on human food and water supplies. But the effects of drought can actually go much deeper and are often more insidious. Long periods without rainfall can alter the delicate balance of natural ecosystems and harm many fish and wildlife species. The term “ecological drought” encompasses and emphasizes these environmental consequences. The Science for Nature and People (SNAP) Ecological Drought Working Group defines ecological drought as “a prolonged and widespread deficit in naturally available water supplies — including changes in natural and managed hydrology — that create multiple stresses across ecosystems.”
In 2015, the Climate Science Centers (CSCs), National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), and university partners undertook the challenge of understanding the regional effects of drought on wildlife and ecosystems, identifing potential threats to valued resources, and prioritizing research efforts that consider potential drought effects on ecological systems.
To support this initiative, NCCWSC is partnering with the University of Maryland’s Integration and Application Network (IAN) to hold a series of 8 workshops, one with each of the 8 CSC regions. These workshops are aimed at collating existing knowledge of the ecological impacts of and resistance and adaptation to drought across the U.S. The regional workshops will culminate in a national synthesis project where representatives from each CSC will collectively write and publish several papers describing the state of our knowledge on ecological drought.
Keep an eye out over the coming months for a new series of posts on our website. These will describe the outcomes of each of the 8 workshops, give an overview of ecological drought impacts across the country, and provide information on our ongoing drought-related research projects in the 8 CSC regions!