North American Drought Monitor Overview

The North America Drought Monitor (NADM) is a cooperative effort between drought experts in Canada, Mexico and the United States to monitor drought across the continent on an ongoing basis. The program was initiated at a three-day workshop in late April 2002 and is part of a larger effort to improve the monitoring of climate extremes on the continent. The NADM is based on the highly successful U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), and as such, is being developed to provide an ongoing comprehensive and integrated assessment of drought throughout all three countries.

Since its inception in 1999, the US Drought Monitor has been extremely successful in assessing and communicating the state of drought in the US on a weekly basis. As with the US Drought Monitor, the North America Drought Monitor blends science and art. There is no one 'correct' way to measure drought. Drought indices are used to detect and measure droughts, but different indices measure drought in different ways, and no single index works under all circumstances. So the Drought Monitor concept was developed as a process that synthesizes multiple indices, outlooks and local impacts, into an assessment that best represents current drought conditions. The final outcome of each Drought Monitor is a consensus of federal, state and academic scientists.

Although all three countries have active climate and drought monitoring programs, until recently there has been only limited cooperation and coordination between the countries' drought experts. Past drought assessments typically have stopped at each country's borders as differences in resources and policy objectives as well as differing methods for monitoring drought in each country effectively prevented an integrated view of drought conditions across the continent. The NADM program is designed to overcome these past limitations by providing monthly assessments of drought across the continent.


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