Drought:  The Creeping Disaster

Improved Forecasting

Improved remote sensing from satellites and radar, as well as the use of thousands of daily in-situ precipitation measurements, has dramatically improved drought-monitoring capabilities. However, the most exciting developments in mitigating drought impacts may be advances made in forecasting the conditions that result in drought. Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’ (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) are using medium-range forecast models to predict soil moisture two weeks into the future. For the longer term, meteorologists are using statistical techniques and historical drought information to construct analogues to current conditions. They then create forecasts up to several seasons ahead of time based on past events. CPC is also using sophisticated computer models that link ground and ocean conditions to the overlying atmosphere to create forecasts of temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture months ahead of time.

Drought Outlook

The drought outlook depicts general, large-scale trends based on subjectively derived probabilities guided by numerous indicators, including short and long-range statistical and dynamic forecasts. Short-term events—such as individual storms—cannot be accurately forecast more than a few days in advance. Image courtesy NOAA Drought Information Center.

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Drought: the Creeping Disaster
Drought Planning and Drought Indices
Improved Monitoring
Improved Forecasting

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Measuring Vegetation (NDVI & EVI)