92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:15 PM
Status of State Drought Planning and Response in the United States
Room 354 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Mark D. Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, NE; and M. J. Hayes

Australian economist Daniel Connell postulates that societies will manage the issue of climate change much in the same way that they manage droughts today, for better or worse. Indeed, going through the impacts and stress of a prolonged extreme drought event highlights an entities capacity and inherent strengths and weaknesses in dealing with such a complex hazard. Unlike most hazards, the fact that droughts typically evolve slowly, last for months or years and have such a large spatial footprint (potentially covering thousands of square miles) that typically cross multiple political boundaries and economic sectors can make it a daunting task to monitor, mitigate and plan for. As a result, perhaps no other hazard compares as well to the issue of climate change as does drought.

To date, the United States has taken a meandering path toward managing drought and in fact no national policy is in place today that deals with drought even though it is on par with hurricanes as this country's most costly of disasters. This paper will take a look at the path to drought planning and resilience within the United States. In fact, many groups are working together via the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (drought.gov), the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) (drought.unl.edu), tribes, states, and federal agencies, regional and state climate offices, river basin authorities and various communities across the United States in the formation of a collaboration and coordination nexus with an ultimate goal of building a comprehensive national drought early warning system (DEWS) that focuses on a proactive risk management approach.

The NDMC works to reduce societal vulnerability to drought by helping decision makers at all levels to: implement mitigation planning and DEWS, understand and prevent drought impacts and increase long-term resilience to drought through proactive planning. The NDMC is a national center that was founded in 1995 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The NDMC conducts basic and applied research along with the maintaining of a number of operational drought-related activities, including the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Drought Impact Reporter (DIR) and the Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI).

Recently, in coordination with NOAA and NIDIS, along with our partners at the University of Illinois and University of Oklahoma, the NDMC helped develop a Guide to Community Drought Preparedness (http://www.drought.unl.edu/Planning/PlanningProcesses/DroughtReadyCommunities.aspx) that communities, counties, basin or other local entities throughout the United States can use to understand and reduce their drought risk. This is just one piece of an overarching effort by NIDIS and its Engaging Preparedness Community working group to assess our nation's capacity to manage drought and to build a user's community dedicated to helping our country do so.

This paper will describe in more detail the various drought resources, tools, services and collaborations already being provided by the NDMC and its partners along with a look at what is in the pipeline for the future in helping others toward drought mitigation planning and developing drought early warning systems in the U.S. and around the world.

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