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National Science Foundation
NSF's Role
Anne SteinemannAnne Steinemann
Anne Steinemann serves as professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of public affairs at the University of Washington. See how NSF has supported her research. Image credit: Anne Steinemann
 
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Recreation of wind blown, baked desert of Sand Hills, NebraskaThe Deserts of Nebraska
The Sand Hills region of Nebraska may today look like a grassland, but in the recent past it was a "sand sea." Desertification 800 years ago was caused by a severe drought. If such a megadrought ever came again, it could well return the region to desert.
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David Stahle's fingers point to narrow tree rings that grew during 1587-1590 drought along Va.-N.C. border.Science Nation: Lord of the Tree Rings
Researcher David Stahle travels to ancient forests around the world, collecting tree rings to learn more about major droughts and other climate events dating back hundreds and thousands of years. Stahle can even determine the socioeconomic impact of droughts. In 1998, he made the front page of the New York Times with his discovery that drought could have contributed to the disappearance of colonists on Roanoke Island.
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Spikelets of hulled drought-resistant wheat.Drought-Resistant Wheat
"Dwarfing" is the breeding process that produced most of today's wheat plants. Dwarf wheat plants are shorter and thicker, and therefore hardier. However, they don't cope as well with stressors such as drought. That's why researchers at Washington State University are trying to find a new technique to dwarf wheat plants while making them more drought-resistant, so future droughts donít decrease our food supply.
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Go to Engineers of the New Millennium home page Go to The Global Water Challenge Go to How Atlanta Outsmarted Its Drought