Developing and evaluating drought indicators for decision-making

Steinemann, Anne, Iacobellis, Sam F., and Cayan, Daniel (2015) Developing and evaluating drought indicators for decision-making. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 16 (4). pp. 1793-1803.

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Abstract

Drought indicators can help to detect, assess, and reduce impacts of drought. However, existing indicators often have deficiencies that limit their effectiveness, such as statistical inconsistency, noncomparability, arbitrary metrics, and lack of historic context. Further, indicators selected for drought plans may be only marginally useful, and relatively little prior work has investigated ways to design operationally practical indicators. This study devises a generalizable approach, based on feedback from users, to develop and evaluate indicators for decision-making. This approach employs a percentile-based framework that offers clarity, consistency, and comparability among different indicators, drought levels, time periods, and spatial scales. In addition, it characterizes the evolution of droughts and quantifies their severity, duration, and frequency. User preferences are incorporated into the framework's parameters, which include percentile thresholds for drought onset and recovery, severity levels, anomalies, and consecutive time periods for triggering. To illustrate the approach and decision-making implications, the framework is applied to California Climate Division 2 and is used with decision-makers, water managers, and other participants in the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) California Pilot. Stakeholders report that the framework provides an easily understood and beneficial way to assess and communicate drought conditions, validly compare multiple indicators across different locations and time scales, quantify risks relative to historic droughts, and determine indicators that would be valuable for decision-making.

Item ID: 43981
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1525-7541
Keywords: drought, planning
Funders: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants
Projects and Grants: NOAA NA11OAR4310150, NOAA NA13OAR4310172
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2016 07:49
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040107 Meteorology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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