What is Ecological Drought? Exploring its impacts on natural and cultural resources

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    Speaker(s):
    • Shawn Carter and Laura Thompson (1); Shelley Crausbay (2), (1) USGS NCCWSC; (2) National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Presentation Date: 
    Thursday, January 12, 2017
Project Summary

Drought imposes many tangible impacts on human food and water supplies, but the effects of drought can actually go much deeper. 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 (including losses in plant growth, increases in fire and insect outbreaks, altered rates of carbon, nutrient, and water cycling, and local species extinctions). Scientists anticipate that the frequency of ecological drought in many areas across the country will increase in the future as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns become more variable. However, very little information is currently known about the magnitude or persistence of potential impacts. The Climate Science Centers and NCCWSC, along with a number of partners, are actively working to understand the regional effects of ecological drought, identify potential threats to valued resources, and prioritize research efforts that consider potential drought effects on ecological systems. View the webinar recording to learn more about the science and impacts of ecological drought!

 

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