Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research » Research » Research Project #430763

Research Project: 2016-2017 La Niña Early Warning and Impacts in the Rio Grande Basin

Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Project Number: 3070-11130-006-08-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2016
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

A La Niña watch has been issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, indicating a 75% chance that La Niña conditions will develop during the 2016-2017 winter. The impacts of La Niña events on U.S. agriculture can be significant, and frequently vary within and across regions. USDA, in partnership with NDMC and a number of collaborators and in support of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, proposes a series of user-focused activities in a regional context that will provide early warning and post-event assessment of La Niña impacts, in order to advance producer preparedness and resiliency to climate variability and change. The objectives of the activities are: - Conduct two regional La Niña early warning demonstration projects for agricultural audiences - Enhance the decision-making capacity of regional agricultural interests through early warning of an extreme event and implementation of adaptive strategies - Identify key physical and social science research questions associated with the impact of climate extremes on agriculture - Promote agriculture community literacy on climate variability and climate change - Engage transboundary agricultural service provider partners and audiences

Project Location: The proposed activities will take place in two locations along the Rio Grande Basin, one in New Mexico and the other in South Texas. The Rio Grande is an essential agricultural production corridor and one that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate extremes, including La Niña. The Rio Grande is also a focal point for existing climate services transboundary collaborations with Mexico, such as through NACSP, and as such the lessons learned from this activity may be portable to other transboundary locations (e.g., Pacific Northwest). Project activities: 1. Pre-event workshops. NDMC, in partnership with USDA and other collaborators, will organize two Fall 2016 workshops, one in each location, targeted at key in-region agricultural audiences (see “Audiences targeted”). Each workshop will include an overview of the current state of the La Niña event and existing landscape conditions (e.g., water, forage); provide background information about La Niña and its connection to climate change; highlight short-term agricultural vulnerabilities to weather and climate extremes in each location and potential adaptation strategies; and identify producer information and services needs that could be addressed, to some degree, during the La Niña event. 2. Communications during the event. The USDA Climate Hubs will work with in-region partners, such as NWS, to provide regular and authoritative monitoring, prediction, and impact information to agricultural interests during the La Niña event. These communications may take multiple forms, such as webinars, media briefings, coordination calls, and additional in-person workshops. 3. Post-event workshops. NDMC will convene two additional workshops, one in each location, after the La Niña event has ended. Each workshop will include a review of the climatological and agricultural impacts of the event itself; a discussion of the benefits provided by the Hubs and other partners during the event, and any challenges and obstacles encountered; a review of lessons learned and the potential portability of this model to other regions; and the capturing of emerging science questions and product and services development opportunities for future action and potential funding. Findings from the post-event workshops can serve as the basis for subsequent event assessment reports and peer-reviewed publications.