8B.5 Developing a Drought Scenario for Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017: 9:30 AM
Mt. Roan (Crowne Plaza Tennis and Golf Resort)
Crystal J. Stiles, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; and D. J. Bathke, N. A. Wall, T. K. Bernadt, and E. Wickham

Hazards come in many varieties and threaten the livelihood of communities across the country. It has become apparent that communities that understand their risks to hazards and plan accordingly are more resilient and better prepared to handle them. One method that has been used to increase preparedness is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) model. THIRA is a process designed to help a community address risk from a hazard by assessing the 32 core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal. Examples of these core capabilities include Community Resilience, Public Information and Warning, Operational Coordination, Economic Recovery, and Long-Term Vulnerability Reduction. Most hazards that are assessed using the THIRA model occur during a specific time period, affect a clearly-defined area, and cause impacts that are easy to identify. However, one hazard that does not fit any of these criteria is drought. Drought is unique due to its creeping nature, ambiguous spatial and temporal extents, and complex relationships between impacts. Consequently, drought is not easily addressed by the THIRA process. The NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program funded a project proposed by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) to address this issue.

A large part of the project focuses on the development of a drought scenario by the NDMC and HPRCC project personnel to be considered by stakeholders at a THIRA workshop where selected core capabilities will be assessed for drought. The regional scope of the scenario is the Platte River Basin in Nebraska, a watershed that serves many competing uses and is a critical surface water resource for the state. Based on input from the project’s stakeholder advisory group, the scenario will include a multi-year drought with severe impacts on water resources, as well as simultaneously-occurring impacts on other key sectors such as agriculture, ecosystems, and public health. The scenario will provide supporting climate and impact data from federal and state agencies, and NDMC and HPRCC tools will be utilized as well. The two centers will incorporate lessons learned from the workshop into a decision support toolkit that can be used by planners with limited scientific background and customized to other regions.

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