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:

Map of Puerto Rico displaying forest types

Overview Issues of water quality and scarcity are of great concern across the U.S. Caribbean. In recent years Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have experienced uncommonly dry weather that has caused moderate to severe droughts. In 2014-2015, severe drought in Puerto Rico...

Drought Effects on Forests and Rangelands in the US Caribbean

UVM research team

Consider the experiences of others who are adapting to a changing climate. This new and growing network of climate-informed demonstration sites is designed to take you to the field and make you feel 'As If You Were There.' Field tours are a powerful teacher becasue they are an...

'As If You Were There' 360° Demonstrations

Provides climate data and develop spatial climate data sets to reveal short-term and long-term climate patterns for the continental United States.

Prism Climate Group

The ACFP toolbox contains tools to: Process (or “hydro-condition”) a watershed’s high-resolution topographic data for terrain analyses Determine which fields within a watershed are most prone to contribute runoff to streams Identify where field-scale and edge-of-...

Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF)

Climate mapper

The Climate mapper provides a series of maps for relevant climate and hydrology information from past conditions and for projected future conditions across the United States to assist with decisions related to agriculture, drought and fire conditions.

Climate mapper

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-...

Water Resources in a Changing Climate

Herford cattle near Miles City, MT

Researchers in the Northern Plains have been studying different ways of managing rangelands during drought -- including matching forage demand with forage production through adaptive management. Here is a summary of on-going research into adaptive management. Adaptive Management...

Adaptive Management: Matching Forage Demand with Forage Production

Camping Vista at Monongahela Forest Restoration

Smart Phone or Tablet? We suggest jumping over here for an improved virtual experience!   Healthy and diverse forests are more resilient to variations in the climate. Some native plants have traits that make them more adaptable to changing climate conditions. Restoring soils can...

Monongahela Forest Restoration

Southern Pasture at Dickinson College Farm

Smart Phone or Tablet? We suggest jumping over here for an improved virtual experience!   Farmers in the Northeast are exploring options to adapt to the changing climate. Higher average temperatures and more intense rains impact farms and can take a toll on livestock. Intensive...

Dickinson College Farm's Silvopasture

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