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Does Your College Have a Drought Plan? Better Make One

Climate adaptation was certainly a major topic of discussion at the recent sustainability conferences I attended in Denver. I wrote about a presentation by a sustainability director at Dalhousie University, who discussed the various ways her institution was planning for major climate disruptions. She, like many who have addressed this issue, talked about the threat to institutions close to shorelines and rising water.

But there is another troubling side to water in a climate-changed world — lack of it. Scientists have long argued that global warming will exacerbate trends in both wet and dry areas, and for the dry areas that means potential dought conditions. This week, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research released some projections for drought in years to come. Check these out:

I think I’ll move to my ancestral homeland, Scandinavia, which might actually get more rainfall — along with Alaska, Siberia, central Africa, and India.

Then again, that rainfall could come in more-intense bursts, as climate scientists have also predicted, followed by long dry spells. The winter-summer-fall here in the Mid-Atlantic region might be a pattern for the future: Intense snowstorms with record precipitation, followed by an intensely hot and dry summer, followed by a somewhat wet autumn. I foresee major investments in companies that make rainwater catchment systems, which could help alleviate water pressures in some areas.

Where does your institution fall on some of the maps above? And what are you doing about it?

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