Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Mark Svoboda

Second Advisor

Deborah Bathke

Third Advisor

Michael Hayes

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Mark David Svoboda. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Olivia G. Campbell


Drought is characterized by periods of below average precipitation. There are five major types of drought recognized in the literature: meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, socioeconomic, and ecological. A relatively new concept in the drought literature is “snow drought.” A key part of the definition of drought is that it is not always accompanied by extreme heat. This means drought can occur even in cold climates, cold seasons, and higher latitudes and altitudes, like Alaska. Drought is a natural part of climate variability, but Alaska’s climate is changing faster than any other state in the United States. Alaska is no stranger to dry periods; prolonged dry periods have occurred in the 1950’s, 1970’s, 1990’s, and most recently from 2016-2019. However, the frequency, duration, and intensity of drought is changing due to global climate change. There have been many impacts to Alaska hydrology, forestry, and agriculture due to drought, so the purpose of this study is to enhance the understanding of drought in Alaska by identifying and using regionally appropriate climate information to create a comprehensive picture of drought in Alaska while capturing its unique characteristics. The principal components analysis (PCA) approach was used to integrate 17 individual drought indicators and indices to identify their relative contribution on a climate division basis. Those results were then used to create a composite drought index (CDI) for the state of Alaska for the period 2003-2021. Results showed that the ACDI was able to capture drought events in Alaska, a first step towards improving operational drought monitoring in the state.

Advisor: Mark David Svoboda