2.1 Utilizing Collaborative Networks to Advance Drought Science and Preparedness across the Nation

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:00 PM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Molly Woloszyn, NOAA, Urbana, IL; and E. Weight, A. M. Sheffield, and B. A. A. Parker

Drought poses a serious threat to the resilience and security of communities nationwide and regularly impacts the lives of millions of Americans and the nation’s economy. Since 1980, drought has been the second-costliest natural disaster in the United States according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, with the average cost of each drought event at $9.6 billion (https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/summary-stats).

To help improve drought early warning and the nation’s capacity to manage drought-related risks, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was first authorized by Congress in 2006 and reauthorized in 2014. Since 2014, NIDIS and its partners have catalyzed nine regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS) across the country. The regional DEWS leverage new and existing partner networks and the expertise of a wide range of federal, tribal, state, local, and academic partners, in order to make climate and drought science readily available, easily understandable and usable for decision makers; and to improve the capacity of stakeholders to better monitor, forecast, plan for and cope with the impacts of drought.

Collaborative and interdisciplinary networks are critical for addressing drought’s unique challenges, which include the complex nature of drought, its impact on all sectors of the economy, and its large-scale footprint. The complexity of drought and its multi-sector impacts require multiple entities across many disciplines to work together to understand and effectively address the interlinked nature of drought challenges. Further, the complexity of drought requires a network approach that is flexible and designed to evolve, innovate, and respond rapidly in order to effectively coordinate and broadly disseminate practices that improve drought resilience. In addition, drought often crosses state and agency boundaries and has a large-scale impact, which increases the importance of working at multiple scales in cross-boundary collaborations.

This session will provide an overview and showcase examples of how NIDIS and its partners, including USDA, US Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, FEMA, USGS, state agencies, the private sector, universities and research entities, and others, advance drought science and preparedness across the nation in this collaborative and interdisciplinary way. Examples include co-developing drought response networks that deliver drought information based on stakeholder needs; supporting effective drought mitigation and response actions; investing in demand-driven, cutting-edge drought research for themes that include seasonal to sub-seasonal forecasting and new drought indices; and strategizing effective ways to address complex topics such as the nexus between drought and wildfire.

The building blocks of a DEWS are observations and monitoring, predictions and forecasting, planning and preparedness, interdisciplinary research and applications, and communication and outreach. Each DEWS engages multiple entities, from local to national levels, to advance these five building blocks with stakeholder-driven and regionally-specific projects. This presentation will showcase how NIDIS utilizes its structure of national and regional level engagement to engage, share and innovate research, best practices, and interdisciplinary approaches to drought management across these scales, as well as across different sectors.

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