Overview of Drought Task Force Research Objectives
2) Improving Drought Monitoring
Improvements in our drought monitoring capabilities must consider both scientific issues and user applications. Underlying many of the issues is the fact that there is no single definition of drought used across the community. For example, meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological drought are measured by deficits in precipitation, soil moisture, and stream flow, respectively. Progress in monitoring drought requires metrics that can be used to quantify improvements. The success of the U.S. Drought Monitor's approach of providing a blend of different drought indicators (informed by expert judgment) reflects the end user's desire for simplicity but also highlights the scientific challenge of how to assess the quality of monitoring that can both inform users and be evaluated to facilitate improvements.
Progress will be measured by taking a more holistic approach to monitoring (and prediction) by examining the ability to measure and predict the onset, severity, and phasing of drought as opposed to a meteorological or hydrological variable. Rather than only measuring aggregate outputs of systems (e.g., stream flow), we will also examine the driving components (e.g., snowpack). Aspects of the system's behavioral performance including elasticities, persistence, and the ability to reproduce the observed variability will be examined. The robustness of improvements can be effectively assessed through the three very different North American drought cases described earlier.
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