Regional Drying and Climate Change

New study identifies "fingerprints" that explain why arid conditions are spreading worldwide
Despite devastating impacts of drought on human and natural systems, the reasons why long-term regional drying occurs remain poorly understood. Research led by La wrence Livermore National Laboratory  scientists, and published in Nature Climate Change , has identified two signatures or “fingerprints” that explain why arid conditions are spreading worldwide, and why the Western United States has tended toward drought conditions since the 1980s while the African Sahel has recovered from its prolonged drought. The team of U.S. and Canadian scientists found that since 1950, human-generated greenhouse gases and particulate atmospheric pollution have influenced global changes in temperature, precipitation and aridity in two distinct ways, each yielding a different fingerprint pattern. The fundamental goal of fingerprinting is to separate the relative roles of natural and human influences on global climate. 
News & Updates
2020 Virtual National Soil Moisture Workshop

NIDIS is a co-sponsor with USDA and other organizations of the "2020 Virtual National Soil Moisture Workshop: A Vision for the Next Decade of Soil Moisture Monitoring.” This annual meeting provides a unique opportunity for leaders in soil moisture research, development, and applications to come together in an interactive workshop format to exchange ideas and enhance collaborations. This year’s workshop will take place virtually, and will also include a student poster session. The deadline for those interested in presenting is tomorrow, July 17, and the registration deadline is August 1.  Learn more >
NOAA issues La Nina Watch

ENSO is still in neutral, and likely to continue so through the summer. However, NOAA has issued a  La Niña Watch as there is now a 50-55% chance of La Niña  developing in the fall and lasting through winter . There is still about a 40-45% chance that neutral conditions will remain, and a 5-10% of El Niño. Broadly speaking, La Niña trends towards cooler winters and more precipitation than normal in the northern U.S., and warmer, drier conditions in the south.
U.S. Climate in June 2020: Dry and Hot

Hot temperatures and below-normal rainfall put June 2020 among the warmest and driest Junes in the 126-year U.S. climate record. The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 70.3 degrees F (1.8 degrees above average), ranking it in the warmest third in the 126-year record. The average precipitation for June was 2.72 inches (0.21 of an inch below average), which ranked in the driest third of the record.
Effects of Fire on Grasslands

Although wildfires have always been a constant part of prairie fire regimes, wildfire numbers and area burned have surged in the 21st Century due to drought. The general effects of fire on soil physical properties range from very minor to serious. This review by scientists with the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station discusses the effects of fire on grassland ecosystems. Learn more >
Survey on Improving Drought Early Warning

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America (CEC), has launched a new survey to help us identify and compare available drought information, products and tools in North America relative to local and regional preparedness, planning, and risk management. The survey is part of a CEC project with NOAA/NIDIS as a participating agency. Learn more >
Grass-Cast for the Great Plains and Southwest
Every spring, ranchers face the same difficult challenge—trying to guess how much grass will be available for livestock to graze during the upcoming summer. The Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast” can help producers in the Great Plains, and now the Southwest too, reduce this economically important source of uncertainty. Grass-Cast uses almost 40 years of historical data on weather and vegetation growth—combined with seasonal precipitation forecasts—to predict if rangelands in individual grid cells are likely to produce above-normal, near-normal, or below-normal amounts of vegetation. This forecast is the result of a collaboration between Colorado State University, USDA, National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and the University of Arizona. Learn more  >
Events & Webinars
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was authorized by Congress in 2006 (Public Law 109-430) with an interagency mandate to develop and provide a national drought early warning information system, by coordinating and integrating drought research, and building upon existing federal, tribal, state, and local partnerships.