Unlike other natural hazards, drought is difficult to detect and difficult to assess its impacts. Also, unlike many other natural hazards, drought can affect any area; it is not confined to regional or physical structures. This poses challenges for monitoring, assessing severity, and communicating the nature of the risk to decision-makers and the general public.
Each week on the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) discussion list, experts provide local information to add fine detail to the national depiction created by the USDM authors. Much of the input is quantitative, but qualitative information on differential impacts is also considered in the process. Some degree of subjectivity exists in evaluating the relative weights of the various indices and impacts. As a result, what may be considered severe impacts in one location may not be considered as severe as others.
The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) are developing a mobile smartphone app that will convey drought
information and allow users the opportunity to provide “condition reports”. The app serves two purposes: it puts the many indicators, assessments, forecasts and outlooks used in the USDM process and other drought assessment activities into the hands of a more mobile population, adding an important capability to existing conveyance through websites, media and other methods. However, the two-way ability of the app, allowing user inputs on their perceptions of drought conditions, adds a new data stream to the suite of indicators available to USDM Authors and local experts.
Research Dates: 2015-2017
Investigators: Mark Shafer, Mike Wolfinbarger, Mike Hayes