23 The Global Drought Information System—A Decision Support Tool with Global Applications

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Michael J. Brewer, NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information, Stennis Space Center, MS; and R. Heim

Drought is a natural hazard which can cause famine in developing countries and severe economic hardship in developed countries. Given current concerns with the increasing frequency and magnitude of droughts in many regions of the world, especially in the light of expected climate change, drought monitoring and dissemination of early warning information in a timely fashion on a global scale is a critical concern as an important adaptation and mitigation strategy. While a number of nations, and a few continental-scale activities have developed drought information system activities, a global drought early warning system (GDEWS) remains elusive, despite the benefits highlighted by ministers to the Global Earth Observation System of System in 2008.

In an effort to begin a process of drought monitoring with international collaboration, the National Integrated Drought Information System's (NIDIS) U.S. Drought Portal, a web-based information system created to address drought services and early warning in the United States, including drought monitoring, forecasting, impacts, mitigation, research, and education, volunteered to develop a prototype Global Drought Monitoring Portal (GDMP). Through integration of data and information at the global level, and with four continental-level partners, the GDMP has proven successful as a tool to monitor drought around the globe. At a recent meeting between NIDIS, the World Meteorological Organization, and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, it was recommended that the GDMP form the basis for a Global Drought Information System (GDIS).

Currently, GDIS activities are focused around incorporating additional drought monitoring information, especially from those areas without regional or continental-scale input, and incorporating drought-specific climate forecast information from the World Climate Research Programme. Additional GDIS pilot activities are underway with an emphasis on information and decision making, and how to effectively provide drought early warning. This talk will provide an update on the status of GDIS and its role in international drought monitoring.

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