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National Drought Mitigation Center

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Global Drought Information System Workshop identifies next steps

December 17, 2014

A group of international experts convened in Pasadena, California, to discuss the next steps in coordinating global and regional information on drought understanding, monitoring, forecasting and management. The International Global Drought Information System (GDIS) Workshop: Next Steps, Dec. 11-13, was held to review the physical mechanisms and predictability of drought world-wide, review and discuss regional capabilities and needs versus global capabilities, and develop pilot projects as part of a limited duration, real-time demonstration of current GDIS capabilities.

The workshop goals addressed the fact that there is currently no global, authoritative, and consistent information on drought that is easily accessible to all users, including real-time assessments of on-going drought and information on our understanding of the physical mechanisms and predictability of drought.

The workshop participants agreed to add regional and global monitoring products as well as compile a list of peer-reviewed global drought forecasting products to the existing GDIS web portal and to develop a GDIS concept note in the next three months that will establish a framework for participation in the GDIS. The GDIS web portal is supported by US National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and hosted by the US National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Another key outcome of the workshop was that representatives of many existing regional and global drought initiatives tentatively agreed to contribute to the GDIS pilots, including the WMO/GWP Integrated Drought Management Programme. In addition, the review of drought research provided a wide-ranging assessment of current understanding and capabilities, and it highlighted the key gaps that limit our ability to predict and monitor drought world-wide.

“This workshop was exciting because it highlighted the potential of linking together activities related to drought prediction research with the drought management communities around the world,” said Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). Mark Svoboda, leader of the NDMC’s Monitoring Program Area, added, “Drought information is important on all scales. Collaborating with partners and networks to provide information at the global scale will then connect with and support regional, national, and local scale networks and drought early warning systems.”

Hayes served on the workshop’s organizing committee, and he and Svoboda both participated in it. Several of the NDMC’s collaborators on international projects were also there, including Eduardo Martins with FUNCEME in Brazil and Nate Engle with the World Bank.

There were more than 60 participants from 15 countries spanning the drought research community and selected representatives from applications communities and providers of regional and global drought information products throughout the world.

The workshop was hosted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Climate Center and by the Global Energy and Water Cycle Exchanges Project (GEWEX), which is a core project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).  Sponsorship and support for the workshop were provided by the US NIDIS program, the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), GEWEX, CLIVAR, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), US Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change (CLIVAR) program, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs on Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) and Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP).

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