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Individual Highlight

Examining Potential Drought Conditions Under Projected Climate Change

Photo of Drought conditions under future climate change projections from three general circulation models and two representative concentration pathways. Matthew Peters, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Drought conditions under future climate change projections from three general circulation models and two representative concentration pathways. Matthew Peters, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Using future climate projections, 54 years of potential drought conditions were evaluated against recent conditions. Assessing how drought conditions might differ in the future and how habitat availability of tree species may change can provide insight into the resiliency of forests to cope with droughts.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Peters, Matthew P.  
Research Location : Eastern United States
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1067

Summary

Future climate change projections from three general circulation models and two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) were used to examine potential drought conditions in the eastern United States. Palmer Drought Severity Index values were calculated monthly using observed climate data for the period 1961 to 2014 and future projections for 2046 to 2099. Generally, the past 54 years have experienced mostly near-normal conditions, and this trend may continue during the last 54 years of this century (2046 to 2099). However under both RCPs, future conditions could see a reduction in moisture surplus and small increases in droughts. While forests can become stressed during droughts, individual tree species respond uniquely to these conditions. Examining the spatial distribution of potential habitat for eastern U.S. tree species under current and future climate conditions, Forest Service scientists can offer land managers information about the potential impacts that future drought could have on the species composition of forests. Efforts are underway to update species’ habitat models used in the Forest Service Northern Research Station Climate Change Atlas and link possible future habitats with potential drought conditions. This research is an extension of analyses that were conducted as part of a national comprehensive science synthesis on drought.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Ohio State University

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