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Montana Drought and Climate is a USDA-funded project of the Montana Climate Office (MCO) at the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation at the University of Montana, in collaboration with the Montana State University Extension Service. The project is supported by Water for Agriculture Challenge Area grant no. 2017-67027-26313 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and by the Montana Water Center.

Growing demand for water resources coupled with climate-driven water scarcity and variability present critical challenges to agriculture and food production. Despite extensive resources allocated to downscaling climate projections, climate information is rarely utilized by producers to mitigate harm or improve water decisions. There is a critical need to develop more effective climate information technologies to improve water decision-making and adaptation to both drought and water variability. Montana Drought and Climate is a collaborative, mixed-methods, experimental research project to develop high quality climate information and test the efficacy of that information for producer decision-making.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Transform existing forecasts and projections into innovative climate information technologies that meet producer needs.
  • Develop a detailed understanding of how these information technologies are utilized in producer decisions about water use and conservation, and adaptation to drought and variability.

Through this project, an interdisciplinary team of hydroclimatologists, social scientists, and Extension specialists will build knowledge of the key factors that influence decision-making and the behaviors that drive water use as well as build capacity to manage the changing availability of water.