Coping with Drought Research Competition


Since 2007, the Climate Program Office’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) has funded more than 60 innovative drought research projects through the Coping with Drought research competition. This research contributes to the understanding of how communities become aware of drought threats and how they can improve preparation and planning.

Projects funded through the Coping with Drought competition assess the impacts of drought on agriculture, ecosystems, and water resources and develop decision support tools for regional, state, and local use. The projects incorporate consultation with stakeholders and focus on information that is most useful for decision-making to reduce vulnerability, models and tools that bring this information to decision makers, and strategies for improving NIDIS’ engagement with communities in preparedness.

Learn more about the Coping with Drought research competition, including open funding opportunities, on

Coping with Drought Sample of Funded Projects

Dynamic Drought Index Tool
Gregory Carbone, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; and J. Rhee, H. Mizzell, K. Dow, and A. T. DeGaetano

The DDIT is designed to adddress the needs for drought monitoring demanded by a wide range of stakeholders. Its flexible design allows users to select the most appropriate index, and to scale to appropriate time periods and regions. Here we will describe its features, discuss user response and recommendations, and document issues related to scaling from the Carolinas to other states. We will also outline procedures required to move from a research to operational web tool.

Reconciling Projections of Future Colorado River Stream Flow
Robert S. Webb, NOAA, Boulder, CO; and B. H. Udall, M. Hoerling, J. Overpeck, H. C. Hartman, D. P. Lettenmaier, J. Vano, D. R. Cayan, T. Das, L. D. Brekke, and K. Werner

Given the wide range of projected flows, the four NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments in the western US (RISAs: Western Water Assessment, Climate Assessment for the Southwest, Climate Impacts Group of the Pacific Northwest, California Applications Program), Bureau of Reclamation and NOAA engaged in a coping with drought study to reconcile the range of estimates for future Colorado River flows. A secondary goal was to inform the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) on the process needed to convey to policy and decision makers the nature of the uncertainties associated with projections of future climate impacts.

Evaluation of Fire Forecast Products to Enhance U.S. Drought Preparedness and Response
Dan Ferguson (Univ. of AZ, CLIMAS); Timothy Brown (Desert Research Institute, Western Regional Climate Center, CAP); Paul Duffy (Neptune and Company, Inc., ACCAP); Gigi Owen (Univ. of AZ, CLIMAS); Sarah Trainor (Univ. of AK, ACCAP)

This cross-RISA (CLIMAS, CAP, ACCAP) drought project will assess the impact the National Seasonal Assessment Workshop (NSAW) seasonal and monthly fire outlooks have on decision makers across the agencies who collaborate to plan for and manage wildfires in the Western U.S. This project will evaluate who is using these outlooks and how they are being used in order to: 1) provide immediate (next year) input into the production and distribution of these products and 2) begin to build a seasonal fire decision analysis framework to help identify where additional resources are most efficiently spent by better understanding and quantifying uncertainties in current decision making.

Paleoclimatic Information for Drought Planning and Decision Making
Connie A. Woodhouse, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and J. J. Lukas, M. Mauzy, and J. Jones

In the Rio Grande region, through two workshops, we worked with area water managers to 1) provide a basic understanding of how tree-based reconstructions of streamflow are developed and applied to resource management, 2) understand Rio Grande water management challenges that might be addressed by streamflow reconstructions, and 3) develop data and tools useful for Rio Grande area decision making. Streamflow reconstructions and tools to assess these extended records were developed with scientific collaborators, and are now part of a web-based resource, which also includes information on the workshops:

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Stakeholders:  A Tale of Three Tools
Mark D. Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, NE; and C. Knutson and M. J. Hayes

The most recent activity (currently underway) is seen in our work with five pilot communities in Illinois, Nebraska, and Oklahoma to establish a new “Drought Ready Community” (DRC) program. The NDMC has partnered on this project with the University of Illinois and the University of Oklahoma to develop a community driven process in integrating place-based planning to reduce vulnerability to drought. One of the main deliverable goals of the project is to develop a “drought resources kit” of educational, public awareness, climatological, planning and mitigation resources. Some of the key objectives include: 1) identify the strengths and shortcomings of available climate data, including what's available through the NIDIS portal, in meeting community-level needs; 2) investigate the feasibility of developing additional, more community-specific indicators, if needed; 3) identify the strengths and shortcomings of educational and public awareness materials in preparing communities for planning; 4) identify the strengths and shortcomings of available processes for developing community-level climatological history; develop and test a new process, if needed; 5) Develop and test a “Drought Ready Communities” kit; and 6) Define what a community needs to do to be certified as a “Drought Ready Community”.

A Climate Information System to Enhance Drought Preparedness by Underserved Farmers in the Southeastern U.S.
Roncoli, Carla, University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc., Gerrit Hoogenboom, Carrie Furman, Pam Knox, Joel Paz, University of Georgia, Heather Gray, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. 


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