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Climate Drivers

Overview of the Climate Drivers Foundational Science Area

The Climate Drivers Foundational Science Area (FSA) identifies and addresses the physical climate science challenges that are important for ecologists and natural resource managers in the NCCSC domain. In order to understand how climate change will affect the ecosystems in this region, it is essential to improve our ability to understand, measure, and model the surface water balance and how that balance might change during the 21st century. One of the main integrative themes across the different NC CSC FSAs is drought, both as a present-day stressor and how it could manifest under future climate change. Drought is a dominant driver of ecological, economic, and social stress in the region and is expected to be one of the major mechanisms in which the impacts of climate change will be manifested across this landscape. 

One of our primary research objectives is to advance the science relevant to drought in the NCCSC regions. This includes better representation of physical mechanisms germane to evolution and dissipation of drought in the region. The climate team intends to evaluate and improve (as well as develop in several instances) the existing datasets and methods to represent these mechanisms. This work will ultimately lead to a better assessment of the 21st drought risk in these regions (and beyond) and development of tools and approaches to increase resiliency to future droughts.

Engagements include:

  1. Research into the examination of physical mechanisms (e.g., extended surface heating and/or periods of low precipitation, snow, and soil moisture processes and anomalies and trends in the evaporative demand), including both historical and 21st century time periods in different regions of the NCCSC domain, that modulate drought evolution, persistence, and dissipation as well as the relationship with the synoptic-scale climate features
  2. Evaluation and development of climate products that are relevant to the surface water balance and drought (e.g., drought indices such as EDDI)
  3. Climate research support to NC CSC funded projects (e.g., SW Colorado Climate Resiliency and WRIR Drought Preparedness Projects)
  4. Synthesis and assessment of existing information on drought research relevant to the NCCSC domain for use in adaptation
  5. A continuing stakeholder outreach and engagement to enhance usability of this research and information that’s developed