CISA collaborates with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to build understanding of drought's effects on the Carolinas' coastal ecosystems, conduct related research, and engage decision makers as part of the Coastal Carolinas Drought Early Warning System (DEWS). CISA contributes to the DEWS through assessment of historical drought events and precipitation patterns and trends in the Carolinas, assessment of drought indicators in Southeastern coastal ecosystems, and a program to expand drought impacts monitoring and reporting through citizen science. Information about all of the Coastal Carolina DEWS projects can be found here. A copy of the 2016 Coastal Carolinas DEWS Meeting Summary Report is available here. Stakeholder feedback from this meeting was used to devise the Coastal Carolinas DEWS strategic plan.
Through interviews and meetings with coastal land managers, fishers, and others dependent on the Carolinas coastal resources and ecosystems, decision makers indicated the need for an improved baseline understanding and information about drought and normal precipitation in the Carolinas. The main purpose of the atlas is to build understanding of how regional risks and impacts relate to hydroclimate extremes and provide information that can be used to enhance drought planning and preparedness across the Carolinas.
Ultimately, the atlas will be displayed through a website which tells the story of hydroclimate extremes in the Carolinas through graphs, maps, photos, videos, and text. Results of spatial data analysis and mapping will be combined with other visual sources to produce an educational tool to help users understand the frequency, duration, and intensity of drought in the Carolinas, as well as the impacts of recent drought.
While many drought indices and indicators exist (focusing on, for example, agriculture or reservoir management), coastal ecological resources receive little attention. This project, which is supported by NOAA's Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP), seeks to improve understanding of coastal resources that are adapted to or dependent upon particular spatial and temporal patterns of precipitation, salinity, or streamflow to determine stress caused by drought. The project is conducted in two phases. First, a needs assessment was completed through structured interviews with 30 coastal resource managers along the Carolinas' coast to identify opportunities for drought early warning and monitoring through the use of existing or potential new indicators or indices as well as additional data and research needed to effectively understand and monitor drought in coastal ecosystems. A PDF summary of findings from this phase of the project is available. The second component of this project will involve collaboration with the US Geological Survey South Atlantic Water Science Center to inform the development of the coastal drought index (CDI) based on real-time salinity data. Utilizing priorities identified through stakeholder interviews, researchers will work to determine linkages between ecological indicators and varying salinity levels expressed by the CDI.
CISA researchers are engaging citizen scientists in on-the-ground data collection to improve understanding of the impacts of rainfall, or a lack thereof, on local ecosystems and communities. Using tools developed by the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network, CISA recruited volunteers to enter daily precipitation measurements and weekly status reports about local conditions. The focus on regular reporting, in contrast to intermittent drought impact reports, is intended to create a baseline for comparison of change through time and to improve understanding of the onset, intensification, and recovery of drought. Researchers are also conducting decision-maker interviews to understand how the collected information can be used for drought response decisions. The project also seeks to build knowledge about the viability of citizen science as a means of data collection and how their information might improve understanding of drought impacts. Find additional information on the CoCoRaHS project page. View CoCoRaHS condition monitoring reports from volunteers in the Carolinas on the Condition Monitoring Web Map.