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Tsegaye Tadesse, Deborah Bathke, Nicole Wall, Jacob Petr, and Tonya Haigh
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Tsegaye Tadesse, Nicole Wall, Michael Hayes, Mark Svoboda, and Deborah Bathke
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Michael Hayes, Mark Svoboda, Nicole Wall, and Melissa Widhalm

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Theresa Jedd, Deborah Bathke, Duane Gill, Bimal Paul, Nicole Wall, Tonya Bernadt, Jacob Petr, Anthony Mucia, and Milan Wall

Abstract

Rural towns are especially susceptible to the effects of drought because their economies are dependent on natural resources. However, they are also resilient in many ways to natural hazards because they are rich in civic engagement and social capital. Because of the diverse nature of drought’s impacts, understanding its complex dynamics and its effects requires a multidisciplinary approach. To study these dynamics, this research combines appreciative inquiry, the Community Capitals Framework, and a range of climatological monitoring data to assess the 2012–14 Great Plains drought’s effect on McCook, Nebraska. Community coping measures, such as water-use reduction and public health programs, were designed to address the immediate effects of heat and scant rainfall during the initial summer and the subsequent years. Residents generally reported the community was better prepared than in previous droughts, including the persistent multiyear early-2000s drought. However, the results highlight wide variation in community perspectives about the drought’s severity and impacts, as well as divergent experiences and coping responses. Despite these factors, we find evidence of the transformative potential of moving from drought coping to drought mitigation. We attribute the city’s resilience to the ability to draw upon prior experience with droughts, having a formal municipal plan, and strong human and social capital to coordinate individual knowledge and expertise across agencies. We suggest that droughts have served a catalytic function, prompting the community to transform land-use practices, water conservation planning, and built infrastructure in lasting ways.

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Tsegaye Tadesse, Tonya Haigh, Nicole Wall, Andualem Shiferaw, Ben Zaitchik, Shimelis Beyene, Getachew Berhan, and Jacob Petr
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Stephen Russell Fragaszy, Theresa Jedd, Nicole Wall, Cody Knutson, Makram Belhaj Fraj, Karim Bergaoui, Mark Svoboda, Michael Hayes, and Rachael McDonnell

Abstract

When drought hits water-scarce regions, there are significant repercussions for food and water security, as well as serious issues for the stability of broader social and environmental systems. To mitigate these effects, environmental monitoring and early warning systems aimed at detecting the onset of drought conditions can facilitate timely and effective responses from government and private sector stakeholders. This study uses multistage, participatory research methods across more than 135 interviews, focus groups, and workshops to assess extant climatic, agricultural, hydrological, and drought monitoring systems; key cross-sector drought impacts; and drought monitoring needs in four countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan. This extensive study of user needs for drought monitoring across the MENA region is informing and shaping the ongoing development of drought early warning systems, a composite drought indicator (CDI), and wider drought management systems in each country. Overarching themes of drought monitoring needs include technical definitions of drought for policy purposes; information-sharing regimes and data-sharing platforms; ground-truthing of remotely sensed and modeled data; improved data quality in observation networks; and two-way engagement with farmers, organizations, and end-users of drought monitoring products. This research establishes a basis for informing enhanced drought monitoring and management in the countries, and the broad stakeholder engagement can help foster the emergence of effective environmental monitoring coalitions.

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Vikram M. Mehta, Cody L. Knutson, Norman J. Rosenberg, J. Rolf Olsen, Nicole A. Wall, Tonya K. Bernadt, and Michael J. Hayes

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Many decadal climate prediction efforts have been initiated under phase 5 of the World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. There is considerable ongoing discussion about model deficiencies, initialization techniques, and data requirements, but not much attention is being given to decadal climate information (DCI) needs of stakeholders for decision support. Here, the authors report the results of exploratory activities undertaken to assess DCI needs in water resources and agriculture sectors, using the Missouri River basin as a case study. This assessment was achieved through discussions with 120 stakeholders.

Stakeholders’ awareness of decadal dry and wet spells and their societal impacts in the basin are described, and stakeholders’ DCI needs and potential barriers to their use of DCI are enumerated. The authors find that impacts, including economic impacts, of decadal climate variability (DCV) on water and agricultural production in the basin are distinctly identifiable and characterizable. Stakeholders have clear notions about their needs for DCI and have offered specific suggestions as to how these might be met. However, while stakeholders are eager to have climate information, including decadal climate outlooks (DCOs), there are many barriers to the use of such information. The first and foremost barrier is that the credibility of DCOs is yet to be established. Second, the nature of institutional rules and regulations, laws, and legal precedents that pose obstacles to the use of DCOs must be better understood and means to modify these, where possible, must be sought. For the benefit of climate scientists, these and other stakeholder needs are also articulated in this paper.

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Kevin Collins, Jamie Hannaford, Mark Svoboda, Cody Knutson, Nicole Wall, Tonya Bernadt, Neville Crossman, Ian Overton, Mike Acreman, Sophie Bachmair, and Kerstin Stahl
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