Science Agenda

Key Research Themes

2019 Science Priorities

1. Consequences of changing precipitation patterns and extremes

The highly variable precipitation regimes of the Southwest influence key ecological and hydrological processes and outcomes. Understanding the ecological, hydrological, and societal consequences of precipitation extremes will aid resource managers in preparing the region for a future that will likely include changes in the frequency, intensity, and seasonality of precipitation.

2. Interactions of temperature extremes and precipitation variability

Elevated temperatures have non-linear effects on evaporation and transpiration, and hence can amplify ecological and hydrological effects of precipitation deficits. Higher average and extreme temperatures are projected for much of the Southwest in coming decades. Given the precipitation variability of the region, it is important to understand how temperature extremes are likely to interact with precipitation variability to influence water resources and ecological systems.

3. Managing in the aftermath of landscape-scale disturbances

Climatic, hydrological, and ecological processes, in the aftermath of landscape-scale disturbances, may determine habitat and landscape configurations that can persist for decades or more. A broad range of observational, experimental, and modeling studies, such as experiments utilizing recent and ongoing disturbances and the application of new and existing tools, can identify alternative scenarios of landscape revegetation and inform management decisions and actions.

4. Management of upper watersheds and downstream water resources

In the Colorado and San Joaquin/Sacramento River systems, as well as most snow-fed river systems of the Southwest, water captured as winter snowpack is delivered to rivers and reservoirs for agricultural and domestic use. Management decisions in upper basins influence delivery via groundwater and surface streams to the lower basins, and conversely management practices in lower basins can affect water storage and delivery from upper basins. Better understanding of the linkages between headwaters and downstream flows, and between management decisions and water delivery, will improve drought resilience and water and ecosystem management.

Science Agenda

The Strategic Science Agenda articulates general science objectives, staffing needs, and operating principles for the SW CASC. The 2013-2018 Science Agenda and the 2017 Science Workplan are below. SW CASC is currently developing a new science agenda, which will be posted here when complete.