Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Geography and Geology

Document Type



From 1980 to 2020, drought events accounted for 11.4% of the billion-dollar disasters in the United States (U.S.) yet caused the second highest total amount in damages at $236.6 billion. With the average cost of a drought being upwards of $9.5 billion, these natural disasters can create serious problems in agriculture. Drought is defined as a period of below average precipitation that causes damage to agriculture and water supply. Previous research has linked drought events in the U.S. Great Plains to oceanic teleconnections in the Pacific and Atlantic basins, indicating the influence of the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). This study looks to identify areas of the Great Plains where drought has the strongest correlations to ENSO, PDO, and AMO. The states studied are Iowa, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas because these rank as the second through seventh most agriculturally productive states in terms of crop and livestock production. Results show that most of this region displays a relationship between drought and the ENSO and PDO, with less of the region displaying a relationship with the AMO.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Gregory Goodrich, Ph.D.


Agriculture | Climate | Meteorology