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NOAA research improves our capacity to prepare for and react to drought, says new Drought Task Force report


A new report from the NOAA Drought Task Force, “Research to Advance National Drought Monitoring and Prediction Capabilities,” highlights the crucial role NOAA research plays in advancing our ability to prepare for and react to drought.

Since 2000, droughts have cost the United States more than $100 billion dollars and have been directly responsible for 461 deaths. Drought threatens our country’s natural resources, economy, and overall health. Increasingly, NOAA is charged with providing and improving information that helps stakeholders at all levels manage water resources in a more resilient and climate-smart manner. Working with input from farmers, ranchers, natural resource managers, and other drought-impacted industries and populations, NOAA research has worked to improve drought monitoring and prediction for better planning and mitigation of impacts.

To help illustrate this point, the NOAA Drought Task Force report describes the state of the science and how the latest research has improved capabilities to monitor the current state of drought, predict its onset and evolution from weeks to seasons, and better understand why drought occurs. The purpose of the report is to communicate the crucial role NOAA research has played over the last decade in advancing the NIDIS early warning system, how these improvements benefit the user community, and opportunities for further progress.

The report’s release coincides with the launch of two new Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS) in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest as part of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Kickoff meetings in each region brought together federal, tribal, state, local, and academic partners, and stakeholder for an in-depth discussion on drought.

Together, these efforts help expand the capability of NIDIS to bring climate and drought science to decision makers and improve the capacity of stakeholders to better monitor, forecast, plan for and cope with the impact of drought in the United States.

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