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Managing the 2011 Drought: A Climate Services Partnership

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Monday, 7 January 2013
Managing the 2011 Drought: A Climate Services Partnership
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Mark A. Shafer, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and D. P. Brown and C. McNutt

This case study focuses on the evolution of efforts to support stakeholder needs for information during the 2011 Southern Plains drought. Activities included four regional drought forums, more than a dozen topic-focused drought webinars along with several status and outlook briefings, a region-wide planning workshop, and an effort to improve drought monitoring. The case study includes examination of the unique aspects of each component and why all components were necessary, how they informed each other, and the challenges of maintaining the engagement as drought severity and public attention declines.

The 2011 Southern Plains drought caused an estimated $12 Billion in damages and left lasting impacts on the region's water resources, cattle industry, forestry, and wildlife. In response to a multitude of requests from a diverse group of stakeholders, a set of drought forums, webinars, and planning workshops were established within the region. Meeting the needs for information of this diverse group of stakeholders kept multiple organizations busy. Each partner brought some unique skills and expertise to the endeavor. Partners included NOAA RISA teams, NOAA Regional Climate Services, National Integrated Drought Information System, National Drought Mitigation Center and state climatologists.

The combined efforts of workshops and webinars have reached more than 400 people. Of these, 245 participated in at least one webinar, 115 of them in three or more. What is especially encouraging for building a drought community is the cross-fertilization between activities. Forty-eight of the attendees of at least one workshop also participated in at least one webinar.

As an example of the inter-relationships of these activities, following the Fort Worth workshop, two of the panelists were recruited to be a presenter on subsequent webinars. Several attendees at that workshop also subsequently signed up for the webinar series. Likewise, registration information for the Fort Worth and Lubbock Workshops was distributed to webinar participants (the webinar series had not yet been launched at the time of the Austin or Memphis workshops).