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The development of this assessment was led by Martin Hoerling (NOAA ESRL) with input from many members of the second Drought Task Force (2014-2017). Special thanks to Kathy Bogan (NIDIS), Emily Read (NOAA CPO), and Dan Barrie (NOAA CPO) for their work on this document. The content in this information sheet represents Drought Task Force discussions and related research.

Temperature and Drought
A Science Assessment by a Subgroup of the Drought Task Force

Key Points

Drought research has historically focused on the analysis of how precipitation deficits cause drought. In contrast, temperature as a drought driver has only recently drawn attention.

Recent interest in temperature as a driver likely stems from observational evidence of increased land surface temperatures, more frequent heat waves, and the increasing duration of hot spells, all of which are giving a heightened perception of the land surface being “parched”. MAPP Drought Task Force research has explored the relation of temperature and drought, both as a driver of and responder to drought. In this drought information sheet, prior knowledge of drought is integrated with new insights on temperature-drought linkages. This information sheet is the state of the Drought Task Force’s knowledge on this topic.

Comparison of May-August 2012 standardized anomalies of soil moisture on the horizontal axis versus (a) precipitation, (b) surface air temperature, and (c) Bowen ratio on the ordinate. The results are for a Central Great Plains domain (36°N - 43°N, 90°W-105°W). Data are from atmospheric climate model simulations (circles) and land surface model simulations (crosses). The 1% lowest May-August precipitation simulations are highlighted in red. From Figure 10 of B. Livneh and M. Hoerling, 2016: The physics of drought in the U.S. Central Great Plains.


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