18th Conference on Applied Climatology
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10 years of the U.S. Drought Monitor: a look back and a look forward

Mark D. Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, NE; and B. Fuchs, S. Scott, and J. Nothwehr

A Look Back: The Drought Monitor

The NDMC began a partnership with NOAA and USDA in creating a new drought severity map back in 1999. Now, 10 years and over 500 maps later, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor (drought.unl.edu/dm) has exceeded its goal of heightening awareness of drought in the U.S., which eventually led to the spawning of a monthly North American Drought Monitor in 2002. The Drought Monitor web site brings in millions of visitors a year and the map is routinely disseminated by all the major media outlets (in all mediums), thus becoming a staple and household name when people want to see where drought is affecting the country. Recent improvements in how the product is made, an ever growing network of expert ground truthers in the field, and a plethora of new higher resolution tools/products in near real-time have changed the way we do business. Utilizing GIS was a landmark event that led to a new way of making the map and offering up the end results for decision makers and the public. Providing national, regional, and state views (with counties) along with the data for each county and state were the first steps taken in bettering our services to the drought community. Evidence of its acceptance and critical role is seen in the recent reliance on the USDM as a trigger for state and federal entities. In fact, the USDM is now a part of the U.S. Farm Bill and has been used in the past for several other government programs (USDA, NOAA, IRS) as one of the criteria used to help determine eligibility for relief or in providing other services due to drought.

A Look Forward: An Enhanced Drought Monitor Decision Support System

Through public forums and other means of stakeholder feedback, the USDM continues to evolve with a goal of increasing the resolution and accuracy of the map. Work is underway, with completion expected by late summer 2010, on an enhanced Drought Monitor Decision Support System (DM-DSS). Through support of the USDA-Risk Management Agency, the NDMC has been developing a much more robust and interactive drought monitoring application that will allow users to take advantage of today's latest technology and higher resolution datasets. The center has spent the past two years gathering feedback from stakeholders as to what they want to see in such a tool. Our development efforts reflect this as the new web-based interface will allow for zooming down to the county level and will contain information that is relevant in scale to the spatial view that the user has chosen on the fly. This will include seamless integration with, and links to, the NDMC's new Drought Impact Reporter database, a newly enhanced and expanded National Drought Atlas (for historical context), and various state and basin level contacts for drought planning and response. Users will also be able to choose the viewing window and appropriate overlays that best meets their needs.

Recorded presentation

Joint Session 8, New challenges for applied meteorology and climatology
Thursday, 21 January 2010, 1:30 PM-3:00 PM, B211

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