4.2 A Drought Early Warning System for the Pacific Northwest

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 8:45 AM
Room 245 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Kathie D. Dello, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR; and A. Marrs

Drought is a slow moving disaster with myriad economic and ecological impacts. Despite its rainy reputation, the Pacific Northwest is not immune to severe drought. The 2015 drought was one of the worst in decades across the PNW region. Fish kills, water shortages, coastal abnormalities, and fire in the rainforest are only a few of the impacts resulting from the drought. When speaking with resource managers about this year's drought, almost all wished for more reliable information and more consistent communication between the research community and the practitioners. To help address some of these issues stakeholders in the region are working with NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to develop a Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) for the Pacific Northwest, expected to launch in early 2016. A DEWS involves developing the capacity of stakeholders to utilize the best available forecasts based on climate projections and the area's drought history, identifying how long and severe a drought may be, identifying possible outcomes of developing drought events and developing mitigation strategies. Because an effective drought early warning requires both researchers and stakeholders working together on the design and implementation, a series of scoping meetings were held around the region in 2015. These cross-sectoral meetings solicited input on the design and function of the PNW DEWS. Stakeholders identified seasonal and longer-term climate projections as necessary for understanding and managing drought in the region. The participants also liked the idea of the DEWS acting as a facilitator of networking around drought and water management in the Pacific Northwest. This stakeholder feedback will be synthesized and incorporated into the PNW DEWS, which will be launched in early 2015. Here, we will discuss the process that helped to shape the PNW DEWS, including the regional nuances that make this DEWS unique.
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