Research Notes

With a new grant, Lane Center Director Bruce Cain pursues research on adaptive drought management in a changing climate

The Politics and Ecology of Water: Notes on the Drought in California
Drowned trees near the Salton Sea's receding shoreline. Photo by Daniel Mayer via Wikipedia.

Bruce Cain, the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, has been awarded a new grant for climate adaptation research intended to develop novel approaches to drought management. Principal investigators Alexandra Konings, associate professor of Earth System Science, and Sarah Fletcher, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, are co-recipients of the grant and will be conducting the research alongside Cain. 

Funding for the project -- and for other research and translation work on solving major environmental problems -- comes from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, which has awarded more than $3.75 million as part of its 2023 Environmental Venture Projects (EVP) grants and Realizing Environmental Innovation Program (REIP). Cain, Konings, and Fletcher are awardees of the former program, which provides seed money to interdisciplinary faculty research teams focused on finding innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.

In their adaptive drought management project, the research team will be considering threats to water security brought on by a warming climate. With shifting weather patterns and demographic conditions, the researchers will assess how increased drought frequency, long-term drying trends, and higher water demand will require water governance reforms that can account for long-term social and environmental changes. Part of the work will involve helping water planners answer complex questions: When should they adapt hydrological indicators most useful for drought management? When should they enact short-term drought responses and invest in long-term water supply infrastructure? Cain, a political scientist, is particularly interested in how politics might impact the effectiveness of new drought management plans. 

To learn more about "Adaptive drought management in a changing climate" and other 2023 projects funded by the Stanford Woods Institute, visit this page

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