Every Thursday morning, the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is released, and the information contained on it helps inform numerous decisions. The United States Department of Agriculture uses it as a trigger to distribute billions of dollars in drought relief to farmers and ranchers through federal aid programs. Water supply managers consider it as they plan ahead. News reporters share updates with local, statewide and national audiences and several states use the USDM to help monitor drought conditions and coordinate activities locally.
This week, the National Drought Mitigation Center releases a new tutorial that explains, in text as well as a series of short videos, the history of the USDM, how climatologists create the map, the data- and observation-driven process that informs the map’s creation, the ways which the USDM informs policy and much more.
Videos feature NDMC director and USDM co-founder Mark Svoboda and NDMC climatologist Brian Fuchs explaining facets of the USDM map-making process. They contribute information about the USDM’s evolution since its inception in 1999, as well as how the public can contribute to the process by providing information through systems such as the Drought Impact Reporter and CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Tutorial users can also trace the typical timeline of producing one USDM map and learn how each of the map’s drought categories get assigned.
The suite of explanatory videos and narratives can be found at drought.unl.edu/usdmtutorial. The tutorial was created through a partnership with NDMC, USDA and the National Integrated Drought Information System.
By Cory Matteson, NDMC Communications Specialist