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NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) recently launched an Instagram account. Instagram users can follow NIDIS at @NOAADrought to get the latest current news, conditions, and outlooks wherever they are. Follow us to stay up to date on drought in your region and beyond. 

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The laws of thermodynamics dictate that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, but new NIDIS-supported research has found that atmospheric moisture has not increased as expected over arid and semi-arid regions of the world as the climate has warmed.

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There are currently not many stations reporting publicly accessible soil moisture data in Alabama, leading to significant gaps in data coverage.  To fill that gap, a team led by Lee Ellenburg, a research engineer at the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s Earth System Science Center and Alabama associate state climatologist, developed a new type of low cost soil moisture monitoring station to deploy across the state. 

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While numerous studies have shown how visitors adjust recreational decisions due to weather, two NIDIS-funded studies led by researchers at the University of California, Merced examined relationships between park visitation and drought indicators. They found park visitation patterns changed with indicated drought conditions, and the impact of drought differed among parks, likely due to the different park characteristics and activities available in parks.

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Scientific data from ground observations, satellites, and climate models have not agreed on whether climate change is consistently chipping away at the snowpacks that accumulate in high-elevation mountains and provide water when they melt in spring. A new NIDIS-funded Dartmouth study cuts through the uncertainty in these observations and provides evidence that seasonal snowpacks throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere have indeed shrunk significantly over the past 40 years due to human-driven climate change. 

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The American Meteorological Society is hosting its 104th annual meeting on January 28–February 1, 2024, in Baltimore, Maryland. This year, the meeting will focus on the theme, "Living in a Changing Environment.” The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and its partners are excited to co-chair several sessions related to drought analysis and prediction, flash drought, and tools and products for real-time climate monitoring.

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2020 and 2021 were low water supply years, much lower than one would expect based on snowpack values alone. Researchers from the Colorado Climate Center questioned whether very low, if not record low, soil moisture levels at high elevation were causing a smaller fraction of snowmelt to runoff than in a normal year, and further,  whether these conditions are likely to occur more frequently in a warmer climate. “On the Sources of Water Supply Forecast Error in Western Colorado” is the result of a research project funded by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to explore this question.

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A groundbreaking digital story collection, “Explore Climate Actions on the CSKT Flathead Reservation,” recently clinched the prestigious Esri Native Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Award in the 2023 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition. This project is a central component of the NIDIS-funded Native Drought Resilience Project, a collaborative effort between CSKT, Salish Kootenai College, the Montana Climate Office and the Wilderness Society. 

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The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) is a resource to understand how drought will change as the climate changes, how we can adapt, and how future droughts might impact your region and livelihood. Check out these 10 maps and graphics to learn more about drought in a changing climate. 

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Non-stationarity poses new challenges that include identifying the differences between permanent change (e.g., trends towards wetter or drier) and temporary anomalies from normal conditions (e.g., drought). To address these challenges, NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and USDA Climate Hubs released the report, Drought Assessment in a Changing Climate: Priority Actions and Research Needs. The report captures the ideas and feedback of more than 100 subject matter experts from over 44 institutions across the drought research and practitioner communities. This report includes a state of the science on drought in a changing climate and identifies some of the most pressing and strategic areas of research and action to advance the knowledge and understanding of drought assessment.