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Scientific data from ground observations, satellites, and climate models have not agreed on whether climate change is consistently chipping away at the snowpacks that accumulate in high-elevation mountains and provide water when they melt in spring. A new NIDIS-funded Dartmouth study cuts through the uncertainty in these observations and provides evidence that seasonal snowpacks throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere have indeed shrunk significantly over the past 40 years due to human-driven climate change. 

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The American Meteorological Society is hosting its 104th annual meeting on January 28–February 1, 2024, in Baltimore, Maryland. This year, the meeting will focus on the theme, "Living in a Changing Environment.” The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and its partners are excited to co-chair several sessions related to drought analysis and prediction, flash drought, and tools and products for real-time climate monitoring.

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2020 and 2021 were low water supply years, much lower than one would expect based on snowpack values alone. Researchers from the Colorado Climate Center questioned whether very low, if not record low, soil moisture levels at high elevation were causing a smaller fraction of snowmelt to runoff than in a normal year, and further,  whether these conditions are likely to occur more frequently in a warmer climate. “On the Sources of Water Supply Forecast Error in Western Colorado” is the result of a research project funded by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to explore this question.

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A groundbreaking digital story collection, “Explore Climate Actions on the CSKT Flathead Reservation,” recently clinched the prestigious Esri Native Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Award in the 2023 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition. This project is a central component of the NIDIS-funded Native Drought Resilience Project, a collaborative effort between CSKT, Salish Kootenai College, the Montana Climate Office and the Wilderness Society. 

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The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) is a resource to understand how drought will change as the climate changes, how we can adapt, and how future droughts might impact your region and livelihood. Check out these 10 maps and graphics to learn more about drought in a changing climate. 

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Non-stationarity poses new challenges that include identifying the differences between permanent change (e.g., trends towards wetter or drier) and temporary anomalies from normal conditions (e.g., drought). To address these challenges, NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and USDA Climate Hubs released the report, Drought Assessment in a Changing Climate: Priority Actions and Research Needs. The report captures the ideas and feedback of more than 100 subject matter experts from over 44 institutions across the drought research and practitioner communities. This report includes a state of the science on drought in a changing climate and identifies some of the most pressing and strategic areas of research and action to advance the knowledge and understanding of drought assessment.

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The U.S. Drought Portal’s Historical Data and Conditions Tool allows users to visualize historical drought data for their state or county through an interactive map and time series graph. Recently, NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) partnered with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) to expand and improve this interactive tool—making it easier to visualize and share historical data for use in communications, research, or decision-making. 

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In September, NIDIS and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes co-hosted the Workshop for Building Drought Resilience in a Changing Climate with Upper Columbia and Missouri Basin Tribes, held on the beautiful Flathead Reservation in western Montana. Over 100 people attended the workshop, representing 16 tribal nations, numerous federal agencies, Montana state government, academic institutions including Tribal Colleges and Universities, and the private sector. 

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NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) has announced approximately $2 million in funding for projects to support tribal drought resilience as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. This investment will help tribal nations address current and future drought risk on tribal lands across the Western U.S. while informing decision- making and strengthening tribal drought resilience in a changing climate. 

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When winter began, drought and dryness covered almost all of the Great Plains and West, and the snowfall in winter 2020-2021 didn’t do much to help conditions in the Western U.S. Explore drought conditions across the U.S. this winter in a series of 8 maps.