Extremes to Ex-Streams: Informing Ecological Drought Adaptation in the Northwest

Columbia River —Alan Cressler, 2017

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In the Northwest U.S., warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will likely result in significantly altered snowpack, stream flows, and water availability. Along with these changes comes an increased risk of “ecological drought”, or periods of water stress that impact ecosystems and the services they provide –which can ultimately impact human communities.

More frequent and severe ecological droughts have the potential to push ecosystems beyond their ability to recover, resulting in complete changes in ecosystem composition and function. Ecological drought will only worsen existing management challenges, such as competition for water resources, habitat degradation, invasive species, and more frequent and severe wildfires. Natural resource managers therefore need to consider ecological drought and its impacts in their long-term planning efforts.

This project will support resource managers by synthesizing and assessing available information on effective climate adaptation actions and tools that can be used to address ecological drought in the Northwest. Researchers will identify the ecological and socioeconomic conditions under which specific adaptation actions are most suited, in order to support reliable and timely decision-making. This project will result in both a detailed synthesis report and a user-friendly fact sheet highlighting key adaptation actions. These results will be shared with resource managers, scientists, and policy makers and made easily accessible online.

Lead Investigator:
Rachel Gregg, EcoAdapt

Other Investigator(s):
Jessi Kershner, EcoAdapt

Project Contact:
Rachel Gregg, Rachel@EcoAdapt.org

State: Regionwide

Funding Year: FY 2017

Project Status: In Progress

Topic Category:

Science Agenda Theme: Vulnerability and Adaptation

Discipline: Hydrology, Social Science

Partners:

This project will support resource managers by synthesizing and assessing available information on effective climate adaptation actions and tools that can be used to address ecological drought in the Northwest.

This project will result in both a detailed synthesis report and a user-friendly fact sheet highlighting key adaptation actions. These results will be shared with resource managers, scientists, and policy makers and made easily accessible online.