3.3 Developing a Drought Outlook Product for the NIDIS Intermountain West Drought Early Warning System

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 11:00 AM
613 (Washington State Convention Center )
Rebecca Bolinger, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; and N. J. Doesken

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was implemented to foster collaboration with the ultimate goal of creating a national drought early warning information system.  It was recognized that drought, in terms of definition, indicators, and impacts, varies greatly from region to region, leading to the creation of the NIDIS pilot projects. Since the inception of the pilot project over the Intermountain West in 2009, regional drought monitoring has improved.  These improvements have propagated into the drought depictions published by the U.S. Drought Monitor and have resulted in increased on-the-ground user involvement and more informed decision making.  While monitoring is an important aspect of NIDIS’s utlimate goal of “regional drought early warning”, potential applications still remain to be explored within the prediction side of “early warning.”

Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (NOAA – CPC) releases national monthly and seasonal drought outlook products.  But the product has its limitations with regard to regional decision making.  With the intricacies of the Intermountain West (including complex topography, irrigated croplands, and a snowmelt driven water supply), the authors identify the need for a targeted drought outlook for the region that satisfies both spatial and temporal needs.  A product, specifically tailored to the Intermountain West, can improve local stakeholders’ drought preparedness, and adaptation and mitigation plans.  To that end, we present possible resources and methods that can be utilized to develop a regional drought prediction tool and discuss next steps in the tool’s development process.

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