Building Gateway Tools for Informed Decision Making: The Drought Risk Atlas and U.S. Drought Monitor
Abstract:The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) (http://drought.unl.edu) has been working with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (http://drought.gov;) and other partners with a goal of developing tools to enhance drought risk management activities in the U.S. and around the world. The NDMC is a national center founded in 1995 and located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The NDMC conducts basic and applied research, provides a variety of services and produces decision support applications. In addition, the NDMC is involved heavily in education, outreach and planning activities and maintains a number of operational drought-related tools and products including the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Drought Impact Reporter (DIR), Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) and the Drought Risk Atlas (DRA).
The NDMC’s recently launched Drought Risk Atlas (DRA) (http://droughtatlas.unl.edu) and the continually evolving U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu;) will be the focus of this presentation. The DRA was launched in 2014 in order to help better answer the common questions of “How does this drought compare to the Dust Bowl years or some other regional drought of record?”, or “How often do we see a drought as severe as this?”, and “Are we seeing trends in drought frequency?”. Access to new digital data sources, geospatial tools and analyses, and dissemination through a web-based interface has allowed us to triple the original National Drought Atlas station sample size and roughly double the period of record in standing up the new DRA. Building off of feedback from the user community, the SPI, SPEI, PDSI, self-calibrated PDSI, Deciles and other climatology (to also include hydrology) products are included. It is anticipated that this tool will heighten awareness and enhance decision support activities with regards to drought risk for policy makers, resource managers, producers, planners, media and the public. Examples of the DRA’s data, maps and visualization tools built into the freely accessible web interface will be discussed. In addition, a brief history of the USDM will also be given as an overview to the process along with a look back at its growth and applications to date, including other regions of the globe.