The National Drought Mitigation Center rolled out an updated Drought Impact Reporter on Monday, Oct. 3, enhancing the nation’s most comprehensive database of drought impacts. It is online at http://droughtreporter.unl.edu.
Besides an updated look and feel, the new Drought Impact Reporter provides more background and context on individual impacts, and distinguishes between impacts and reports, allowing a much greater range of information to be incorporated and extracted.
All information enters the Drought Impact Reporter as a report, and moderators decide whether it meets the tool’s definition of an impact: An observable loss or change that occurred at a specific place and time because of drought.
Reports come from media, users (i.e., anyone), CoCoRaHS observers, National Weather Service Drought Information Statements, state-aggregated burn bans, state-aggregated water restrictions, and other summary reports compiled by agencies or organizations. The new system includes slight differences in how user-submitted reports are handled. Please contact the NDMC and / or refer to the Help page on the Drought Impact Reporter for more information.
Reports and impacts are mapped separately. The default view of reports is to map them by point of origin – circles placed on the city or the county centroid – and the default view of impacts is to map them by affected area – shading – down to county level. This enables people to see whether drought-affected rural areas have local representation in the reporting process, or whether they are represented by media or agencies in urban areas.
You can subscribe to the Drought Impacts RSS feed – http://sucho.unl.edu/droughtimpactreporting/rssfeed/ – to see impacts as they are created, using whatever RSS feed reader you prefer. Add the two-letter postal abbreviation at the end of the URL to receive a feed for a specific state. For example: http://sucho.unl.edu/droughtimpactreporting/rssfeed/TX.
More features soon to be added to the new Drought Impact Reporter are:
- A text-based Advanced Search, which will enable more reliable quantifiable measures of drought impacts.
- Searching by river basin, drought status, and other boundaries.
The Drought Impact Reporter is a companion tool to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is an integral part of decision making for providing relief to drought-stressed agricultural producers. Drought Monitor authors often consult the Drought Impact Reporter in assessing whether drought conditions are depicted accurately or need to show more or less intensity.
The Drought Impact Reporter was developed with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.
Many NDMC staff members and others have contributed to this version of the Drought Impact Reporter. NDMC staff greatly appreciate the efforts of Scott Owen, a programmer with Concentric Corporation, an Omaha-based IT consulting and staffing company; Qingfeng “Gene” Guan, assistant professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science with the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT) at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Ruopu Li, a Ph.D. candidate in Natural Resource Sciences associated with CALMIT, and Jinfu Leng, a master’s student in Geography and GIScience. Concentric built the database, web service and moderator interface, and Guan and his team developed the mapping tool and spatial analysis capabilities.