2.2 Rain Gauges for Range Monitoring: Codeveloping Tools and Best Practices for Ranch-Scale Drought Detection

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:15 PM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Michael Crimmins, The Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and M. McClaran, A. Hall, and A. Brischke

Increased climate variability will increase drought severity and frequency on western US rangelands. Drought creates both production and legal risks because ranches typically rely on federal lands for 50-90% of their forage, and policies for these 200M acres of federal rangeland dictate responses regarding herd reduction, reduced access to forage, and a lengthy approval process to change infrastructure and management. In Arizona, the patchy spatial distribution of drought means that some ranches experience drought while others do not. Because the spatial resolution of drought information is too coarse to represent this difference among ranches, we convened a working group consisting of livestock producers and land managers to assess information needs and explore new strategies to improve precipitation and drought monitoring at finer scales. The working group discussed the strengths and weaknesses of existing precipitation monitoring strategies at pastures and allotments and proposed new ones including a rugged cumulative rainfall gauge designed for quick and easy readings at remote sites. Several online tools (e.g. https://myraingelog.arizona.edu/) were also co-developed to support the use of these gauges by providing custom data management features and climatological reference information to aid in the interpretation of observations. This presentation will highlight the activities of the working group, the tools and best practices developed and current progress in maintaining this network.
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