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Defining Drought in Marginal Areas: The Role of Perception

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Drought exacts a heavy toll of agricultural productivity, yet it has been largely defined as a one–dimensional natural hazard. This paper explores an understanding and defining of drought based on the perception of ranchers in the marginal physical enviornment of western South Dakota. Analysis of interview data reveals at least four separate dimensions of drought: (1) when a percentage of normal rainfall is recieved, (2) when ranch operation is affected, (3) when a definite amount of rainfall is recieved, and (4) the timeliness of rainfall. The incorporation of perception–based data with site–specific drought severity indices, such as the Palmer Index, can provide a more complete characterization of a hazard affecting the productivity and sustainability of semiarid enviornments worldwide.

Keywords: Drought; content analysis; marginal enviornments; perception; ranching

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Missouri Western State College

Publication date: 1997-05-01

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