The Causes, Predictability, and Historical Context of the 2017 U.S. Northern Great Plains Drought
This assessment is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) response to a request by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) for an evaluation of the causes, predictability, and historical context of the 2017 United States Northern Great Plains drought. This assessment was led by a team of weather and climate experts from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory’s Physical Sciences Division and its Cooperative Institute located at the University of Colorado Boulder.
This assessment spans a Northern Great Plains region of North Dakota, South Dakota and eastern Montana. It begins with an examination of the observed hydroclimatic conditions that led to the 2017 spring and summertime drought and places those conditions into historical context of 1895-present. Next, the role of anthropogenic climate change is assessed through its possible impact on 2017 precipitation, temperature, and soil moisture. Finally, the report examines whether the record-low summertime precipitation that led to the 2017 drought was predicted by modern initialized forecast systems used by drought forecasters.