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Page Summary

Drought is a natural hazard with far-reaching impacts that range from economic losses to loss of agriculture and livelihood. Drought can cause or exacerbate water, food, and national security hazards. The maps, tools, and resources on this page address drought conditions around the world.

Global Drought Conditions

CMORPH (CPC MORPHing technique) produces global precipitation analyses at very high spatial and temporal resolution. This technique uses precipitation estimates that have been derived from low orbiter satellite microwave observations exclusively, and whose features are transported via spatial propagation information that is obtained entirely from geostationary satellite IR data.

This map shows the 3-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and is updated daily. Learn more.

The Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) monthly precipitation dataset from 1901–present is calculated from global station data. This map shows the 9-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). Learn more.

NOAA's Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) produces satellite-based global vegetation health products, including the vegetation health index (VHI). VHI is a proxy characterizing vegetation health or a combined estimation of moisture and thermal conditions. Vegetation health is often used to estimate crop condition and anticipated yield. If the indices are below 40 indicating different level of vegetation stress, losses of crop and pasture production might be expected; if the indices above 60 (favorable condition) plentiful production might be expected. Learn more.

Drought Categories

The color with the hex code #730000 identifies:
D4
The color with the hex code #e60000 identifies:
D3
The color with the hex code #ffaa00 identifies:
D2
The color with the hex code #ffd37f identifies:
D1
The color with the hex code #ffff00 identifies:
D0

Wetness Categories

The color with the hex code #8ccdef identifies:
W0
The color with the hex code #00bfff identifies:
W1
The color with the hex code #1d90ff identifies:
W2
The color with the hex code #4169e1 identifies:
W3
The color with the hex code #0000ff identifies:
W4

Drought Categories

The color with the hex code #730000 identifies:
D4
The color with the hex code #e60000 identifies:
D3
The color with the hex code #ffaa00 identifies:
D2
The color with the hex code #ffd37f identifies:
D1
The color with the hex code #ffff00 identifies:
D0

Wetness Categories

The color with the hex code #8ccdef identifies:
W0
The color with the hex code #00bfff identifies:
W1
The color with the hex code #1d90ff identifies:
W2
The color with the hex code #4169e1 identifies:
W3
The color with the hex code #0000ff identifies:
W4

Unfavorable Conditions

The color with the hex code #ff00a0 identifies:
0 - 6
The color with the hex code #f00050 identifies:
6 - 12
The color with the hex code #ff7878 identifies:
12 - 24
The color with the hex code #ffaa00 identifies:
24 - 36
The color with the hex code #ff5 identifies:
36 - 48

Favorable Conditions

The color with the hex code #5f5 identifies:
48 - 60
The color with the hex code #0a0 identifies:
60 - 72
The color with the hex code #55f identifies:
72 - 84
The color with the hex code #00a identifies:
84 - 100
Source(s):

CPC

Source(s):

GPCC

Source(s):

NOAA STAR

Updates Daily  -  01/20/21
Updates Monthly  -  01/10/21
Updates Weekly  -  01/20/21

Key Impacts of Drought around the Globe

Environmental Impacts
Droughts can compromise a wide range of ecosystem services, including provisioning services such as food, fuel, and freshwater; regulating services such as pollination and pest regulation; and support services such as soil fertility and nutrient cycling. Significant or persistent droughts may alter ecosystem functions and compromise ecosystem goods and services, resulting in diminished or damaged ecological functioning.

Economic Impacts
Droughts may result in significant, long-term economic losses in a range of sectors. Losses may be local to the drought-affected area or they may be widespread through economic value chains and by cascading losses to other sectors and the national or global economy. In some regions of the world, drought may cause or exacerbate food shortages and food insecurity, unemployment, poverty, inflation, conflict, and internal displacement or migration.

Cultural and Social Impacts
Cultural and social constructs underlie how water is perceived, valued, and managed in different societies. In many cultures and belief systems, water is strongly tied to cultural heritage and religious and spiritual practices. These may inform a social understanding of the causes and solutions for drought and may support communities in coping with drought. Further, drought impacts can vary in severity based on gender, ethnic group, religion, likelihood strategies, and other societal roles and vulnerabilities.

Health Impacts
Drought can cause significant human health impacts, and the socioeconomic environment in which drought occurs influences the resilience of affected populations. In poorer or marginalized communities, drought may exacerbate existing health disparities. Drought impacts on food production systems and agricultural value chains can contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Drought can also exacerbate gaps in sanitation and hygiene coverage and reliability, which may disproportionately affect women and girls when they are responsible for household water supply.

Tools to Visualize and Analyze Drought Worldwide

Example normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) map of Europe and Northern Africa from Climate Engine

Climate Engine

Source:
Desert Research Institute, Western Regional Climate Center, University of California, Merced

Climate Engine uses Google’s Earth Engine to process satellite and climate data on demand to visualize value and anomaly mapping, as well as time series and statistical summaries of datasets. This allows users to analyze and interact with climate and earth observations for decision support related to drought, water use, agriculture, wildfire, and ecology.

A map showing NDVI for Africa and Europe, from the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture

Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture

Source:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) seeks to strengthen agricultural drought monitoring and early warning globally. GIEWS uses remote sensing to estimate precipitation and to monitor the following, both globally and for individual countries: Agricultural Stress Index; drought intensity; Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies; Vegetation Condition Index; and Vegetation Health Index.

An example map of South America from the Global Drought Observatory MapViewer

Global Drought Observatory

Source:
European Commission

The MapViewer of the Global Drought Observatory (GDO), hosted by the European Commission, generates global maps of monthly precipitation, mean annual precipitation, SPI, soil moisture anomaly, and NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Total Water Storage anomaly. The site also supports mapping of fire danger from the Global Wildfire Information System; information from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (see below for more information); the Wetlands drought index from Ramsar; and an up-to-date “Risk of Drought Impact for Agriculture” by country. The GDO MapViewer supports comparison of monthly or 10-day period maps.

Example ClimatView map of Asia and Australia

ClimatView

Source:
Japan Meteorological Agency

The ClimatView tool enables viewing and downloading of global or continental-scale maps of monthly world climate data, including temperature and precipitation and related anomalies, normals, and 3-, 6-, and 12-month SPI. ClimatView is produced by the Japan Meteorological Agency with input from the World Meteorological Organization members around the world.

Worldwide Humanitarian Alert Systems

Example Southern Africa Food Security Classification Map from FEWS Net

FEWS NET

Sources:
USGS EROS Data Center, USAID, NASA, NOAA, Chemonics International

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) provides monthly reports and maps for approximately 30 countries detailing current and projected food insecurity in order to inform planning and humanitarian response. Created and managed by the United States Agency for International Development, FEWS NET examines the performance of rainfall (onset, totals, distribution, cessation) at various points in the year, together with forecasts, and develops scenarios of food security projections.

Example map of disaster alerts within the past 4 days from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS)

Sources:
United Nations, European Commission

GDACS provides a map of disaster alerts—including drought—worldwide to improve alerts, information exchange and coordination for disasters. This is produced as a cooperative framework between the United Nations, the European Commission, and disaster managers worldwide.

Example map of alert and ongoing disasters in Africa and Europe from ReliefWeb

ReliefWeb

Source:
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provides information services via ReliefWeb on severe disasters—including drought and heat waves—in highly vulnerable countries. The goal is to help humanitarian workers and decision makers make informed decisions to mobilize to address disasters. ReliefWeb monitors and collates information from several sources, including humanitarian agencies at international and local levels, governments, research institutions, and the media.

International Drought Resources