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 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

Rockaways Boardwalk

Smart Phone or Tablet? We suggest jumping over here for an improved virtual experience!   As the climate continues to warm, both the rainfall intensity and total amount of rainfall from large storms are projected to increase. Hurricane Sandy is just one example of how these...

Building Resiliency at the Rockaways

View where the Coastal Resilience program is working. Explore data and spatial analysis results for the rivers and shorelines of those locals so that managers and planners can explore the role of natural habitat in risk reduction along marine and fresh water shorelines to inform...

Coastal Resilience: Mapping portal

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