Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Rangeland Ecology & Management (2021) 74: 50–62

doi: 10.1016/j.rama.2020.09.007


Copyright © 2020, Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier. Used by permission


Drought contingency planning is an increasingly common tool in the ranchers’ climate adaptation toolboxes, but its effect on drought response has not yet been evaluated. We use cognitive models of protective action decision making and planning to explore the effects of having a drought plan on the use of drought early warning information and drought response (and timing). Results of a cross-sectional, probability-based survey of livestock producers affected by a 2016 flash-drought are used to describe the characteristics of operations with drought plans and provide evidence of whether having a plan predicts drought information use and response. While larger operations are more likely than others to have plans for drought, having a drought plan appears to play a unique role in ranchers’ use of information and decision making regardless of operation size. Findings suggest that encouraging the use of drought contingency planning may improve ranchers’ adaptive capacity. Increased use of planning may also increase the effectiveness of communicating risk and early warning information, by making such information more actionable by decision makers.