Example The US Drought Monitor

One example of a product developed from multiple indicators is the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor product (see Chapter 3). This product, originally released in August 1999, was developed to provide a weekly assessment of drought conditions across the United States on a general scale. What makes the Drought Monitor unique is that it incorporates a variety of quantitative indicators and is adjusted based on qualitative information from a network of local experts around the country. The quantitative indicators include the Palmer and Standardized Precipitation Indices, streamflow information, a soil moisture model, precipitation totals for various time periods, and a vegetation index derived from satellite data. Although some of this information is available in percentiles, the map derives from a subjective combination of this information and the qualitative indicators.

An advantage of the Drought Monitor is that the map provides a "big picture" assessment of drought conditions across the country for the public, media, policy makers, and others interested in a relatively simple representation of the overall drought situation. It also recognizes that because of the complexity of drought conditions and impacts, it is important to make adjustments to the drought depiction based on the qualitative information. The network of local experts provides a crucial accountability process to make sure the Drought Monitor map is representing drought conditions at this larger scale. The Drought Monitor, however, is not meant to capture local drought conditions, and this is a major limitation. It should not be used for making decisions at smaller resolutions, representing counties, for example.

Continue reading here: Considerations for Drought Indicators and Triggers

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