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Published on
February 2, 2021

Flash drought has serious real-world implications. The 2017 Northern Plains flash drought resulted in fires that burned 4.8 million acres and U.S. agricultural losses in excess of $2.6 billion dollars. Neither the drought’s swift onset nor its severity were forecasted. Episodes like this have sparked intense interest in flash drought in both the research community and the end user/applications community. Clear conceptualization of flash drought is important to both communities as there are differing understandings and confusion on what flash drought is and how it differs from other droughts. To address this need, NIDIS held a virtual workshop in December 2020 that convened researchers and end users to begin developing a shared understanding/definition of flash drought, and to identify research and tools needed to improve flash drought early warning.
 

Published on
January 12, 2021

NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) has launched the redesigned U.S. Drought Portal (www.drought.gov) to better serve stakeholders, decision makers, the media, and the public. The new website features updated content and new interactive architecture designed to provide actionable, shareable information and easy-to-understand graphics describing current drought conditions and forecasts by city, county, state, zip code, and at watershed to global scales. The Drought Portal also aggregates and presents drought impact data for economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, water utilities, and tourism and recreation using interactive maps and data that don’t exist anywhere else

Published on
January 7, 2021

This series of maps shows a recap of drought across the United States in 2020, covering U.S. Drought Monitor category changes, precipitation and temperature conditions, streamflow and groundwater levels, wildfire, evaporative demand, snow drought, and more.

Published on
November 19, 2020

Since the start of the 21st century, California and Nevada have suffered extreme wildland fires and droughts that have caused devastating impacts to ecosystems and society. A common feature of these events has been very high evaporative demand—the “thirst” of the atmosphere—which has largely been driven by increased air temperatures caused by anthropogenic climate change. According to new research funded by NIDIS and the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP), a NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) team, climate change and a “thirsty atmosphere” will bring even more extreme wildfire danger and multi-year droughts to Nevada and California by the end of the next century. The research was led by the Desert Research Institute and Western Regional Climate Center, with co-authors from CNAP and in collaboration with University of California, Merced.

Published on
November 11, 2020

NIDIS just released its inaugural Tribal Drought Engagement Strategy, which presents guiding principles of tribal engagement, as well as key outcomes and tribal engagement activities for NIDIS and partners to implement in 2021 and beyond. This Strategy was developed by engaging with tribal nations within the Missouri River Basin and Midwest Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS); however, the principles, as well as many of the activities, extend beyond these two regions.

Published on
November 3, 2020

Severe droughts are a devastating climate event and are considered one of the costliest natural disasters in the United States. With droughts impacting both ecological and economic sectors, improving the capability to predict the evolution of drought and its severity and frequency more accurately and reliably is crucial for early drought warning and mitigation. There have been considerable efforts toward understanding the mechanisms and predictability of drought. However, the current level of skill in forecasting drought onset, development, and demise is limited. To address this need, NIDIS funded a study through NOAA’s Climate Program Office Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program.

Published on
October 6, 2020

NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program is announcing five new 2-year projects in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), through a multi-program collaboration, that aim to improve our understanding and use of drought indicators, thresholds and triggers, and drought impact reporting to inform decision-making to prepare for and respond to drought. The competitively selected projects total $2,776,805, including $2,541,397 in grants and $200,000 in other awards. 

Published on
October 6, 2020

Novel forms of drought are emerging globally due to a warming climate, shifting ocean and atmospheric teleconnection patterns, expanding human water use, and a history of human influence on the environment. These droughts are increasing the probability for transformational ecological impacts that cascade to human communities in costly and consequential ways. Developing a better understanding of the changing expression and impacts of drought across different ecosystems is one of today’s grand challenges. A recent study, published in One Earth, included scientists, managers, and decision-makers in a unique horizon-scanning approach—a systematic way to explore a topic that is looming—to identify the emerging issues in ecological drought.

Published on
September 24, 2020

Soil moisture is a critical variable and influences the climate system through modification of energy and moisture fluxes of the boundary layer. This in turn affects temperature, humidity, and precipitation. In addition, soil moisture is used as an indicator for agricultural drought, and recent studies have determined soil moisture as a key indicator of, and possible early warning for, flash drought in the United States.

Published on
August 27, 2020

This series of maps shows the current state of drought in the United States. Included are the factors that have led to the drought, primarily below average precipitation coupled with high to record-breaking temperatures; impacts such as the wildfires burning across the West; experimental drought indicators like the Evaporative Demand Drought Index; and outlooks for the rest of summer and fall.