The Role of Integrated Drought Monitoring in Drought Mitigation Planning

Mark D. Svoboda, Michael J. Hayes, Donald A. Wilhite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Drought is as difficult to monitor as it is to define. In fact, it is difficult to determine when a drought begins and it is just as difficult to determine when a drought ends. Given the complex nature of drought, the task of monitoring drought is enormous. Development of an integrated drought monitoring system is a fundamental mitigation action and can arguably be considered the most critical layer in any drought planning process, providing the foundation for the actions taking place in a plan. In 1999, a new drought classification system, weekly map, and narrative depicting the current status of drought in the United States were developed. The new product was called the Drought Monitor ( With collaboration between the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center (NOAA/CPC), this experimental product soon became operational. The new classification system attempts to combine several indicators in order to capture a drought's magnitude, spatial extent, and potential impacts. Among those variables used in the analysis are stream flow, drought indices, percent normal rainfall, a satellite vegetation health index, snowpack, soil moisture, and other ancillary inputs. To date, this is perhaps the best example of an integrated drought monitoring system, and it can serve as a model for the development of other monitoring systems around the world and on a more regional or local level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Arid Zone
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Drought
  • Drought mitigation
  • Drought monitories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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