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Southeast Alaska Drought: Refining Drought Metrics for a Temperate Rainforest

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Southeast Alaska has been experiencing abnormally dry conditions since late January 2018 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought conditions have affected important ecosystem services such as hydroelectric power generation, drinking water availability, stream and fish habitat, and fish hatcheries.

What does drought look like in a temperate rainforest?

The Southeast Alaska Drought Workshop, held in Juneau, Alaska on May 7, 2019, brought together diverse participants to identify impacts of drought and to refine drought thresholds in temperate rainforest ecosystems where drought is a new concept. Information and resources were also shared to raise awareness about drought and to support adaptation to drought in these environments. Workshop outcomes that are underway include: refining drought metrics for Southeast Alaska; increasing drought impact reporting; sharing information on drought status; developing a synthesis of workshop information; and identifying community-driven next steps and needs. Over 70 people attended this workshop in-person or virtually. Presentations given at the workshop were recorded and are available below.

Southeast Alaska Drought Workshop Agenda  and  Flyer 

Drought in the Rainforest Primer        Changing Water Dynamics       CoCoRHaS        CoCoRHaS Training     PNW Drought Impacts Reporter
Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors       Sign up for Weather-ready nation ambassadors 

Post-workshop products *Updated 17 September 2019*

  • What does drought look like in Southeast Alaska?
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society article: Defining Drought in a Temperate Rainforest
  • Refining Drought Metrics (in development)
    • Request for information and data to answer questions to help refine drought metrics for southeast Alaska
  • Southeast Drought Workshop – White paper (in development)
  • 6 September 2019 Webinar recording: Did Southeast Alaska drought conditions improve or worsen during the summer of 2019 and what will autumn/winter bring? This talk provides a climate and drought perspective of summer 2019 across Southeast Alaska, climate outlook for potential of future precipitation, review of impacts recorded throughout the summer along with a progress report on follow-up work from the Southeast Alaska Drought workshop.

    Recordings of workshop presentations, presentation files (pdf) and links relevant to the presentation:  

    Fran Houston Aak'w ~waan Tribal Spokesperson | Welcomes participants to the region (recording)

    Holly Prendeville Coordinator USDA Northwest Climate Hub | Workshop welcome and USDA Climate Hubs (recording, presentation)

         USDA Northwest Climate Hub

    Deb Bathke University of Nebraska-Lincoln National Drought Mitigation Center and Aaron Jacobs National Weather Service Juneau | US Drought Monitor (recording, presentation)

         National Drought Mitigation Center - Alaska     US Drought Monitor     US Drought Monitor - Alaska      Drought Impact Reporter  
         Map of drought impact reports     
    CoCoRHaS-Community Collaborative Rain Hail Snow Network

    Genelle Winters Metlakata Indian Community| Metlakatla (recording*, presentation)  

         Metlakatla Indian Community

    Aaron Jacobs National Weather Service-Juneau and Rick Thoman University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy NOAA RISA | Climate (recording*, presentation

         National Weather Service            National Weather Service-Juneau     National Weather Service Juneau office contacts

         Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors       Sign up for Weather-ready nation ambassadors     

         Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy NOAA RISA

    Samia Savell Natural Resources Conservation Service | Farms, Private Forests, and Watersheds (recording*, presentation

         USDA NRCS   USDA NRICS -Alaska

    Mike Janes Alaska Electric Light & Power | Snow, Avalanches from a power perspective (recording, presentation)

         Alaska Electric Light & Power

    Christy Yearous Alaska Electric Light & Power | Hydroelectric power, reservoirs (recording, presentation)

         Alaska Electric Light & PowerSoutheast Alaska Drought Workshop 7 May 2019

    Group Discussion Highlights 1 (recording

    Allison Bidlack University of Alaska Southeast and Southeast Coastal Rainforest Center | Streams, forest, coastal and marine systems (recording, presentation)

         University of Alaska Southeast 

         Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center     

         Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center

    Liz Graham Forest Service State and Private | Forest health - insect impacts (recording, presentation)

         State and Private     Forest Health Protection -  Alaska

         2018 Forest Health Highlights StoryMap

         Forest Health Conditions in Alaska Reports & Aerial Detection Survey Damage Maps (2002-2017)

    Dave D’Amore Forest Service Research & Development Pacific Northwest Research Station | Soils (recording, presentation)

         Research & Development       Pacific Northwest Research Station

    Ryan Bellmore Research & Development Pacific Northwest Research Station | Streams and fish (recording, presentation)

         Research & Development       Pacific Northwest Research Station     Southeast Alaska Salmon Simulator

    Mark Cahur Forest Service National Forest System | Southeast Alaska fire risk & fire wise information (recording, presentation)

         National Forest System     Alaska-Region 10     Fire & Aviation

    Group Discussion Highlights 2 (recording)

    Aaron Jacobs National Weather Service-Juneau | MesoWest (recording, presentation)


    Daniel Fisher USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) | SNOTEL (recording, presentation)

         USDA NRCS   NRCS-Alaska     Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) and Snow Course Data and Products

    Anna Costa University of Alaska Fairbanks- Alaska Climate Research Center | Alaska Climate Research Center & CoCoRHaS –Community Rain Hail Snow Network (recording, presentation)

         University of Alaska Fairbanks      Alaska Climate Research Center     CoCoRHaS

    Rick Thoman University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy NOAA RISA | Viewing historical climate data (recording, presentation)

         University of Alaska Fairbanks     Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP)     ACIS=Applied Climate Information System

    Jeremy Littell Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center | Climate models and data limitations (recording, presentation)

         United States Geological Survey (USGS)     Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center     Scenarios Network for Alaska + Arctic Planning (SNAP)

         Precipitation change in the United States. In: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I

    Acknowledgements and closing statements


    This workshop benefited from the support, assistance and feedback from a variety of organizations including the USDA Chief Economists Office's Climate Change Program Office, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Weather Service Juneau, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information - Center for Weather and Climate, Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, and the Forest Service.