5.2 RISA Progress on Drought Indicators for Decision Making

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 3:45 PM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Caitlin Fiona Simpson, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and S. L. Close

Communities around the country are increasingly recognizing the need to plan for water shortages and long-term drought. To build preparedness and help communities manage risk, researchers funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Coping with Drought initiative through the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program are working to better understand these impacts across the country and work with communities and resource managers to develop adaptation strategies that meet their needs. The Coping with Drought initiative supports research involving the use of climate predictions and forecast information in decision-making across a range of sectors. These sectors include agriculture, water resources management, fisheries, public health, and forest fire management. Among these and other sectors, the initiative works to collaborate with and reach out to stakeholders at a variety of positions within local, state, regional, and federal levels. RISA teams play critical roles in the development of knowledge, information, tools, and engagement processes for the regional early warning systems for drought that NIDIS is spearheading across the western and southeastern U.S.

As a component of the Coping with Drought initiative, the RISA program had a call for proposals to support the development of indicators of drought designed to be of most use to managers and planners grappling with severe and in some cases ongoing drought in their regions. Several projects have been underway in three different parts of the country to develop indicators. These indicators are being developed in collaboration with managers and planners and take into account the impacts of drought and how drought information could be best communicated to meet management needs.

Indicators are being developed for coastal ecosystems in the Carolinas, water management in California, and native communities in parts of Arizona. For instance, the California Nevada Applications Program (CNAP) RISA is developed a percentile-based indicator system for analyzing historic droughts and characterizing the recent California drought. In the Southwest, the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) RISA has been working with the Hopi community on drought monitoring and planning to develop the first-ever Hopi Quarterly Drought Status Report which integrates scientific and local knowledge about drought. The Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) RISA team is developing a coastal drought index (CDI). Utilizing priorities identified through stakeholder interviews and a needs assessment of coastal resource managers, researchers will determine linkages between ecological indicators and varying salinity levels.

This presentation will discuss RISA's role in developing drought indicators based on engagement with decision makers and how this work fits into the larger role that RISAs are playing in the development of the NIDIS Regional Drought Early Warning Systems across the U.S.

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