CICS Research Advances Real-time Drought Monitoring
Dr. Eric Wood, a Fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS) – a joint research endeavor between NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and Princeton University, is leading a research effort to develop improved drought assessment and hydrologic forecasting capability ( http://hydrology.princeton.edu/forecast/) for use in the scientific response to continuing drought in many regions of the country. Over the last 5 years, many areas of the country have suffered severe drought, which has led the Western Governors Association to request a National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) be formally established. In the draft legislation currently going through Congress, NOAA is designated as the lead federal agency for coordinating the implementation of NIDIS. Dr. Wood is working in conjunction with the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), with funding from the NOAA Climate Program Office.
Background: Dr. Wood’s research uses the near real-time atmospheric forcing data provided by the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) as input to a hydrologic model-based drought monitoring system. In contrast to the current NOAA Climate Prediction Center Drought Monitor, which is only observational and does not allow for drought forecasting, the seasonal hydrologic forecast system that Dr. Wood incorporates is designed to provide a seasonal outlook of drought with improved skill.
Significance: A dynamic and accessible drought information system (including monitoring and forecasting) will provide users with the ability to determine the potential impacts of drought and the associated risks they may bring. With proper decision tools, this drought monitoring and forecast system can minimize the economic, social and ecosystem losses associated with drought. This research supports NOAA Mission Goal 2 – Understand Climate Variability and Change to Enhance Society's Ability to Plan and Respond – and Mission Goal 3 – Serve Society's Needs for Weather and Water Information.