Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015ND298B

A Study of the Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Drought and its Impact in

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $11,608 Total Non-Federal Funds: $23,217

Principal Investigators: G. Padmanabhan

Abstract: Droughts have significantly impacted North Dakota in the past. Frequent droughts are a characteristic feature of North Dakota climate. Drought impact is notably varied spatially within the state. Agriculture is a significant part of North Dakotas economy. This sector is highly impacted by droughts and has experienced vast losses, and is vulnerable to future drought threats. North Dakota is a leading producer of many crops, including durum wheat, barley, spring wheat, sunflower, and dry edible beans. Groundwater is one of the most valuable resources in North Dakota, and many residents and industries rely on it. However, groundwater is vulnerable to drought. Understanding the groundwater level responses to drought is important in managing groundwater. Based on economic, environmental and agricultural considerations of North Dakota, it is imperative to monitor and study droughts. Drought in North Dakota has been studied in the past. Those studies focused on specific topics such as economic impact of climate change and climate trend analysis. Huang et al., (2011) used North Dakota as a pilot study site to study the wetland water surface variation using Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and remote sensing data. However, spatio-temporal characteristics of drought and impact of drought on specific sector such as crop yield and groundwater resources has not been studied. There is still a need for comprehensive drought study to understand the drought and its impact in North Dakota. Especially, the recent development and availability of computational tools can help better understanding of drought. Moreover, the recent drought events in this region emphasize the need of a rigorous drought study. Objectives include: 1. to study the geospatial characteristics of droughts using geostatistical tools, 2. to study the temporal behavior of droughts by analyzing the time series of selected drought indices, and spatial evolution of droughts with time for defined drought events, 3. to study the impact of drought on crop yield using historical yield and drought data, and 4. to study the lag between the groundwater level responses and meteorological and agricultural drought. The results of this study will be useful for state agencies, and water dependent industries to plan and manage the future drought events. Moreover, this study will propose potential actions that could be taken in order to improve the drought monitoring and mitigation in the state of North Dakota.