The NDMC's climatologists are actively researching the best ways to monitor and communicate about drought. They work with researchers across the country and around the world on drought monitoring and agricultural meteorology.
The NDMC was instrumental in working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create and operationalize the U.S. Drought Monitor, which came on-line in 1999 and published its 500th weekly map in April 2009. The NDMC also produces a monthly suite of Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) maps.
The Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) uses GIS to combine data from satellites, climatology, and biophysical processes, to determine how much vegetation stress is due to drought and how much is due to other factors. We are developing VegDRI in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) and the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC). Vegetation Outlook (VegOut) is a highly experimental product. It will be similar to VegDRI, but will project drought conditions into the future at two-, four-, and six-week intervals. A related product, QuickDRI, is being developed to detect fast-emerging droughts.
Our climatologists benefit from being one floor away from the High Plains Regional Climate Center, which facilitates collaboration on products such as the Daily Gridded SPI.
All of the NDMC's drought-monitoring products are user-oriented. Our climatologists actively collaborate with social scientists and other professionals to make scientific information as comprehensible as possible to the lay public. Workshops inform tool development. The Drought Impact Reporter is grounded in both social science and climatological drought monitoring.