TJ3.1 INVITED: The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS): Advancing the concept of climate early warning systems

Monday, 7 January 2013: 1:30 PM
Ballroom F (Austin Convention Center)
Roger Pulwarty, NOAA, Boulder, CO; and C. McNutt, L. Darby, R. Webb, and J. Verdin

The NIDIS Act (Public Law 109-430) prescribes an interagency approach, to “Enable the Nation to move from a reactive to a more proactive approach to managing drought risks and impacts.” NIDIS' ability to meet drought information needs is strongly dependent on the enabling observational and planning capabilities of its Federal, state and tribal partners. This presentation will describe several of the advances in each of these areas in advancing early warning concepts. Examples will be drawn from information needs and knowledge management mechanisms used in addressing recent droughts across the US.

NIDIS drought information systems recognize that droughts vary from region to region. These systems integrate research and monitoring including impacts indicators derived from three elements of NIDIS (Coping with Drought research, the Climate Test-bed, and the Drought Portal), and work with regional Federal and local partners to provide regionally-specific drought information outlooks. NIDIS has improved its effectiveness by increasing (a) The number of states and institutions with improved capacity to inform risk management and reduce exposure to drought risks (b) The number of staff in or working with those institutions trained to develop and communicate local drought information and help reduce impacts, (c) The number of research projects that conduct and update drought impacts and user needs assessments in drought-sensitive parts of the US and (d) the percentage of the U.S. population covered by adequate drought risk and early warning information systems. To achieve a truly “national” integrated drought information system presence requires improvements that NIDIS has begun to address but for which further advances are needed. These include: • Understanding of drought variability and forecast reliability across a variety of timescales from a season, to a year, to decades (including understanding the role of precipitation events in ending such droughts and the role of temperature and land surface feedbacks in drought intensification); • Collaboration among researchers and resource managers to enhance the use and value of observation networks, impacts indicators, and predictions • Improving coordination between institutions that provide different types of drought information and transferring successful tools and approaches to regions not yet having active early warning systems; and • Working with the private sector and others on guidance and standards for developing value added products to support drought plans.

Key to the future success of NIDIS is a sustained national system of credible, consistent, and authoritative observations. NIDIS is increasingly recognized as a successful example of an integrated information system (US Congress, 2012) and is being requested to develop assist in developing capabilities for climate early warning in other drought-sensitive parts of the world.

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