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Award Abstract #1243125

Collaborative Research: EaSM2--Quantifying and Conveying the Risk of Prolonged Drought in Coming Decades

Div Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences
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Initial Amendment Date: February 13, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: July 10, 2015
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Award Number: 1243125
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Anjuli S. Bamzai
AGS Div Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences
GEO Directorate For Geosciences
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Start Date: February 15, 2013
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End Date: January 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $1,374,190.00
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Investigator(s): Jonathan Overpeck jto@email.arizona.edu (Principal Investigator)
Julia Cole (Co-Principal Investigator)
Diana Liverman (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Arizona
888 N Euclid Ave
Tucson, AZ 85719-4824 (520)626-6000
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NSF Program(s): CR, Earth System Models
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Program Reference Code(s): 4444, 5740, 8012
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Program Element Code(s): 8012


Drought is among the most ruinous of natural disasters and is expected to become increasingly prevalent in a warming world. In the future, natural hydroclimatic variability will be superimposed on continued human-driven changes to regional climate, with both long-term warming and regional drying likely to exacerbate droughts of the future. Among the greatest challenges of decadal prediction and climate change projection are the quantification of prolonged drought risk in vulnerable regions and the integration of knowledge about this risk into the decision-making processes of the many resource managers and other stakeholders who deal with drought.

This project focuses on a scale of drought variability - decadal to multidecadal - that is not well constrained by observations, nor well represented in models. The activity relies on the integrated use of satellite, instrumental, and paleoclimatic observations, along with climate models and analysis, to understand both the natural and human influences on drought, potential model biases, and the roles of land cover change (vegetation and dust), ocean temperatures, and other factors behind drought. The goal is to develop improved estimates of drought risk, as well as the improved partnerships between scientists and stakeholders that are required to reduce the vulnerability of society to drought. Key vulnerable regions will be identified, where natural variability and anthropogenic change combine to amplify the risk of prolonged, severe drought with large consequences: southwestern North America (US and Mexico), Australia, the Amazon, and West Africa/Sahel.

The strategy takes advantage of several unique observational, model and stakeholder resources: (1) an unprecedented number of simulations of the past millennium from a state-of-the-art Earth System Model (CESM; in addition to the CMIP5 archive); (2) an expanding set of published and emerging paleoclimate datasets from multiple proxies that reveal long observational histories of decadal-multidecadal hydroclimate variability; (3) a longstanding network of stakeholders and collaborators in the southwestern US, Mexico, and beyond with whom we can develop best practices in applying drought risk estimates to real-world problems across a broad social context; and (4) a long history of working on drought variability and stakeholder-driven.


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Moss R.H., G.A. Meehl, M. C. Lemos, J. B. Smith, J. R. Arnold, J. C. Arnott, D. Behar, G. P. Brasseur, S. B. Broomell, A. J. Busalacchi, S. Dessai, K. L. Ebi, J. A. Edmonds, J. Furlow, L. Goddard, H. C. Hartmann, J. W. Hurrell, J. W. Katzenberger, D. M. L. "Hell and High Water: Practice-Relevant Adaptation Science," Science, v.342, 2013, p. 696.

Ault, T. R., J. E. Cole, J. T. Overpeck, G. T. Pederson, S. St George, B. Otto-Bliesner, C. A. Woodhouse, and C. Deser. "The Continuum of Hydroclimate Variability in Western North America during the Last Millennium," Journal of Climate, v.26, 2013, p. 5863.

Overpeck, J.T.. "The challenge of hot drought," Nature, v.503, 2013, p. 350.

Ault, T.R. J. E. Cole, J. T. Overpeck, G. T. Pederson and D. M. Meko. "Megadroughts: a framework for assessing risk in the coming century.," Journal of Climate, 2014. 

Otto-Bliesner B.L., J.M. Russell, P.U. Clark, Z. Liu J.T. Overpeck, B. Konecky, P. deMenocal, S.E. Nickolson, F. He, Z. Lu. "Coherent changes of northern and eastern equatorial Africa rainfall during the last deglaciation.," Science, v.346, 2014, p. 1223.

Rockström, J., Brasseur, G., Hoskins, B., Lucht, W., Schellnhuber, J., Kabat, P., Nakicenovic, N., Gong, P., Schlosser, P., Máńez Costa, M., Humble, A., Eyre, N., Gleick, P., James, R., Lucena, A., Masera, O., Moench, M., Schaeffer, R., Seitzinger, S., va. "Climate change: The necessary, the possible and the desirable Earth League climate statement on the implications for climate policy from the 5th IPCC Assessment.," Earth's Future, 2014. 

Shanahan, T.M., N.P. McKay, K.A. Hughen, J.T. Overpeck, B. Otto-Bliesner, C.W. Heil, J. King, C.A. Scholz, J. Peck. "The African Humid Period and the complexity of radiatively-driven monsoon variation.," Nature Geoscience, v.8, 2015, p. 140.

Thompson, D.M., J.E. Cole, G.T. Shen, G. Meehl, and A.W. Tudhope. "Early twentieth-century warming linked to tropical Pacific wind strength.," Nature Geoscience, v.8, 2015, p. 117.

Canevari-Luzardo, Laura, Joan Bastide, Isabelle Choutet & Diana Liverman. "Using partial participatory GIS in vulnerability and disaster risk reduction in Grenada, Climate and Development," Climate and Development, 2016. 

Capotondi, A., A. Wittenberg, M. Newman, E. Di Lorenzo, J.-Y. Yu, P. Braconnot; J.E. Cole; B. Dewitte; B. Giese; E. Guilyardi; F.-F. Jin; K. Karnauskas; B. Kirtman; T. Lee; N. Schneider; Y. Xue; S.-W. Yeh. "Understanding ENSO diversity," Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, v.96, 2015.

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