Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011MT245B

Student Fellowship: An investigation of drought climatology, vulnerability and mitigation in the Clark Fork River Basin of Montana

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $425

Principal Investigators: Molly Smith

Abstract: Drought is a significant environmental hazard in Montana (Governor’s Report on Drought 2010). As evident in some parts of the state, the effects of drought on natural systems and human communities are observable and measurable (Heitschmidt et al 2002, Jamison 2005, Dinsmore 2008). Nevertheless, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center (2010), drought does not have a universally accepted definition. While the experience of drought varies by geographic region and by perspective, it is generally understood to entail a “deficiency of precipitation” for a period of time that negatively affects the water quantity available to a user group (National Drought Mitigation Center 2010). The Clark Fork River Basin is one area of Montana in which a clear definition of drought and a drought mitigation plan is currently lacking (Montana State Water Plan 2009, Task Force 2010). The project proposed herein aims to address these gaps through an investigation into drought climatology, user group vulnerabilities, and drought mitigation. This investigation will be conducted in collaboration with the Clark Fork River Basin Task Force (Task Force) and the results will precipitate informed policy and management discussions on drought in the Clark Fork River basin.