The University of Arizona

Tribal Drought Information for Monitoring, Assessment, and Planning (DRI MAP) | CLIMAS

Tribal Drought Information for Monitoring, Assessment, and Planning (DRI MAP)

Tribal Drought Information for Monitoring, Assessment, and Planning (DRI MAP)

Lead Investigator:  

The Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation have experienced widespread and persistent drought conditions for more than a decade, due to mounting deficits in the winter and summer precipitation seasons. Drought has impacted vegetation and local water resources in ways that threaten agricultural systems and ecosystems that are critical to supporting the Hopi and Navajo people. Limited hydroclimatological and ecological monitoring across the region has made it difficult to assess current drought impacts and anticipate future impacts.

Ferguson and Crimmins began to work with Hopi colleagues in 2009 to help them devise a comprehensive drought monitoring strategy that incorporated both traditional hydroclimatic drought indicators as well as locally-gathered drought impacts information. In response to a request from the Navajo Nation Water Management Branch, the research team, led by Crimmins, also provided a technical review of the drought monitoring component of the Navajo Nation’s Drought Contingency Plan.

As part of this project, Faulstich and Woodhouse developed a collection of 15 tree-ring chronologies to reconstruct climate history for the Four Corners region, framing the ongoing 21st century drought in the context of the past four decades. The instrumental record did not adequately represent the full range of natural climatic variability possible on tribal lands, meaning that pre-instrumental drought events have far exceeded anything witnessed in the region in the modern era. Droughts characterized by winter precipitation deficits followed by a failed monsoon can have devastating consequences in the Four Corners.