Water Availability

Our Nation contains regions where agricultural producers contend with an overabundance of water and regions frequently challenged by water scarcity and drought. The 100th meridian is often touted as the dividing line between the wet eastern United States and the dry, water-limited west. While this geographic division serves well as a rule of thumb, it ignores critical factors such as rainfall timing, intensity, frequency and magnitude and resulting systemic impacts.  How these events impact water supply in relation to water demand dictates impacts both now and in the future.

Hydrologists often conceptualize water from a budget perspective with inputs (precipitation) and outputs (runoff, infiltration, deep percolation) over a specified land area and time-period. Projected changes in annual precipitation show a latitudinal dipole with increases for much of the northern U.S. and decreases in the drier areas of the southern U.S. These changes could exacerbate the water-related challenges already faced in these areas. For example, an increase in spring precipitation may reduce the number of workable field days, reduce crop yields and disrupt planting operations in wetter regions.

Continue to the full text of Water Resources in a Changing Climate or browse related content:

The effects of climate change on crop production will vary by region, and will largely be a factor of impacts on resources important to agricultural production, such as soil and water. Soils provide a wide variety of ecosystem services, including regulating carbon through...

Croplands in a Changing Climate

To convey information contained in the Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis for New England and Northern New York forests.

Storymap of Climate Change and Adaptation: New England

A farmer overlooks his flooded fields

This report provides an overview of regional agriculture and forest sensitivities to climate change and suggests adaptation strategies that can help build resilience.  The Northeastern United States is a diverse region containing the seven most densely populated States in the...

Northeast Regional Vulnerability Assessment

Screenshot from Farming & Climate Change: Edgewater Farm

Extreme weather is the new normal for farming in the Northeast In this USDA Climate Hub-funded video series produced by the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, hear how three successful organic farmers in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are adapting their farming...

Adapting to Climate Change: New England Farmers

Oyster catchers in Glacier Bay

Alaska has warmed more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the United States. Water drives ecosystems and livelihoods in Alaska, and the resulting changes in snow, ice, and water have costs to natural resources and ways of life. These changes will continue for the foreseeable...

Changing water dynamics in Alaska

Drought has economic, social, cultural, and ecological costs and in the Pacific Northwest droughts are expected to occur more often and for prolonged periods due to changes in climate. As drought becomes more prevalent changes to natural resources are expected. To promote...

Drought impacts and management options in the Pacific Northwest

Risk of Seasonal Climate Extremes in the U.S. Related to ENSO

Selecting a type of ENSO event, temperature or precipitation and season will show the relative risk of climate extremes based on concurrent value of the ENSO index (MEI.ext) for the continental United States:

Risk of Seasonal Climate Extremes in the U.S. Related to ENSO

Farm worker, Ethan, brings the cows to the barn for afternoon feeding.

View Full Case Study:Clovercrest Farm: A Family Dairy in Charleston, Maine Table of Contents:A History of Clovercrest Farm »The Impacts of Climate Change on Clovercrest Farm »Adapting to the Changing Climate »Looking Ahead »Resources »      A History of Clovercrest Farm...

Clovercrest Farm: A Family Dairy in Charleston, Maine

The economic, social, and environmental costs of drought can be significant, and vulnerability to drought in arid and semi-arid regions will likely increase in the future with a warming climate. To promote stronger drought resilience on federal lands, the National Drought...

Responding to Ecological Drought in the Intermountain Region

Subscribe to Water Availability