2014 Symposium: Drought in the life, cultures, and landscapes of Great Plains

Event Organisers: 

National Drought Mitigation Center NDMC

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute


01/04/2014 to 04/04/2014


2011 and 2012 witnessed two of the worst Great Plains droughts in recent memory, a tragic counterpoint to the damaging floods of 2011 and a return to the stressful times of 1998-2006. Drought is a recurring pattern in this semi-arid region, with severe droughts in the 1890s, 1930s, 1950s and 1980s. Indeed, using tree ring, lake sediment, and dune records, scientists have documented the periodic return of severe droughts. Based on such evidence, some scientists have observed that drought was the dominant feature of climate rather than the exception. Drought has been and will continue to be a normal part of the climate of the Great Plains and may increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of projected changes in climate.

Drought or the ever-present threat of it has had a pervasive effect on the region and its people. It molded the region's settlement patterns, agriculture and commerce, stimulated innovation, aroused conflict between agriculturalists and environmentalists, and fueled litigation between states. Drought shaped how the people of the Great Plains think of themselves and their region and influenced their culture, literature, and art. Today it raises concern about whether the region will have sufficient water for its future.

Conference themes:

  • Global context for drought
  • Impacts on human health
  • Influence/impacts in the Canadian Prairies
  • Ecosystem health
  • Agriculture and livestock impacts
  • The Dust Bowl and drought history
  • Drought in literature and art
  • Changing climate and weather
  • Native American impacts
  • Settlements, migration impacts

Venue City: 

Lincoln, Nebraska

Language of event: 

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