1.1 Collaborative Drought Monitoring and Analysis: Examples from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

Monday, 13 January 2020: 10:30 AM
153A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Richard R. Heim Jr., NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI, Asheville, NC; and D. S. Arndt and S. Ansari

Drought has been a recurrent hazard throughout history and its impact is becoming more significant as economies become more complex and intertwined and climate extremes become more frequent and widespread. In this era of shrinking federal budgets and limited resources, leveraging of resources in collaborative endeavors has become more important than ever before. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) partners with other federal agencies and academic partners to analyze and monitor drought on local to global scales. This presentation highlights several of the collaborative drought activities and products managed by, or supported by, NOAA’s NCEI.

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), established by Congressional Act in 2006, is a multi-agency federal program that coordinates and integrates drought research to enable the U.S. to respond proactively to short-term and sustained drought through improved monitoring, prediction, risk assessment, and communication. Outreach and user engagement are an important component, and NIDIS works with federal, tribal, state, & local partnerships to create a national drought early warning system. Several regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS) have been established in the U.S. due to NIDIS engagement. NCEI hosts the NIDIS drought portal, which is a web interface that serves as the public face for NIDIS. NCEI has also worked with NIDIS to engage with users to improve NCEI’s drought monitoring and recovery tools and our understanding of drought in the diverse climates of the U.S.

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) was initiated in 1999, and became operational in 2000, as a collaborative drought monitoring tool between several federal agencies and the academic sector to replace the time-worn Palmer Drought Severity Index as the primary basis for drought decisions in the U.S. It integrates several drought indices and indicators with drought impacts information in a convergence of evidence approach. The USDM leverages existing resources across USDA and NOAA agencies and the National Drought Mitigation Center, and incorporates the local drought expertise and recommendations of several hundred local, state, and regional offices. NCEI provides three authors who prepare the USDM on a weekly basis.

The North American Drought Monitor (NADM) followed the USDM model by leveraging existing resources within each of the three North American countries. The NADM continental drought depiction is created by merging national drought assessments made by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The USDM is used for the U.S. depiction. NCEI provides two of the NADM authors and hosts the NADM web presence. Feedback and recommendations by users are solicited at biennial NADM workshops, the next of which is planned for spring 2020 in Mexico.

The NADM concept was extended globally with the Global Drought Monitor (GDM). Regional/continental drought assessments are made by organizations or nations within each continent or region. These assessments are integrated into the GDM to give a global snapshot of drought conditions. The GDM is the drought monitoring component of the Global Drought Information System (GDIS). The GDIS leverages and organizes existing resources to present a global picture of current drought assessments as well as drought forecasts, and provides access to drought mitigation and recovery tools, drought research, and drought education resources. NCEI hosts the web presence of the GDIS.

Agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have come together to leverage resources to improve climate services across the continent in the North America Climate Services Partnership (NACSP). The NADM has been identified as an important NACSP activity; collaborative precipitation analysis, weather forecasting, and fire assessment activities have begun under the NACSP umbrella; and several cross-border regional projects (Great Lakes, Rio Grande/Bravo, Gulf of Maine) have been initiated.

NADM and NACSP partners, including the NCEI, are working through a project funded by the North America Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to improve understanding of drought characteristics across North America; improve the ability of local communities to access and utilize existing drought products and tools, better monitor and prepare for drought conditions, and incorporate drought into multi-hazard risk management; and develop new user-oriented tools, especially across transboundary regions. These efforts leverage existing products and partnerships, and engage users to build upon and improve the products.

NCEI partnered with the USDA Northwest Climate Hub, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Weather Service Juneau Weather Forecast Office, and Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center to seek local user input to better understand drought in the temperate rain forests of southeast Alaska at a May 2019 Southeast Alaska Drought Workshop. User engagement at this workshop provided improved metrics for analyzing and monitoring drought as depicted on the USDM.

NCEI is developing new data bases and tools to improve the spatial analysis for monitoring drought. These include gridded data bases and in situ-satellite hybrids.

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