Working with natural resource managers to co-produce drought analyses in Hawaiʻi

A brown landscape is dotted with dead tree trunks.
Periods of drought can lead to drastic changes to landscapes, like this extreme 2010 drought in Puʻu Waʻawaʻa Forest Reserve, challenging managers to predict and cope with future climate changes. (Photo: EParsons)

The climate in Hawai‘i is changing, and alterations in rainfall amount and distribution have implications for future vegetation cover, non-native species invasions, watershed function, and fire behavior. As novel ecosystems and climates emerge in Hawai‘i, particularly hotter and drier climates, it is critical that scientists produce locally relevant, timely and actionable science products and that managers are able to access the best-available science.

Managers and researchers have identified that a knowledge exchange process is needed for drought in Hawai‘i to allow for formal collaboration between the two groups to co-produce drought data and products. To address this need, this project will pilot a focused knowledge exchange and technical assistance process with three partners: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a State Forest Reserve, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Working with individual land managers, the project researchers will co-produce customized site-specific drought statistics and data based on the needs of each manager.

The specific science objectives for this project are to: (1) construct detailed site-specific syntheses of historic climate variability, drought, and long term drying using all available data; (2) synthesize future climate projections for each land management area; (3) assess manager responses to recent severe drought and wildfire events; and (4) develop geospatial data products, including maps of risk and potential management responses that best achieve multiple objectives. Having this readily available and relevant drought-related information will improve the drought resilience and response of land managers, reducing wildfire risk and protecting threatened and endangered species and important natural resources into the future.





Christian Giardina
Research Ecologist, Inst. of Pacific Islands Forestry, US Forest Service


Abby Frazier
Research Fellow, East-West Center, UH Mānoa