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Michael Hayes
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Nicole Wall
, and
Melissa Widhalm

No Abstract available.

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Tsegaye Tadesse
,
Nicole Wall
,
Michael Hayes
,
Mark Svoboda
, and
Deborah Bathke
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Michael J. Hayes
,
Mark. D. Svoboda
,
Donald A. Wiihite
, and
Olga V. Vanyarkho

Droughts are difficult to detect and monitor. Drought indices, most commonly the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), have been used with limited success as operational drought monitoring tools and triggers for policy responses. Recently, a new index, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), was developed to improve drought detection and monitoring capabilities. The SPI has several characteristics that are an improvement over previous indices, including its simplicity and temporal flexibility, that allow its application for water resources on all timescales. In this article, the 1996 drought in the southern plains and southwestern United States is examined using the SPI. A series of maps are used to illustrate how the SPI would have assisted in being able to detect the onset of the drought and monitor its progression. A case study investigating the drought in greater detail for Texas is also given. The SPI demonstrated that it is a tool that should be used operationally as part of a state, regional, or national drought watch system in the United States. During the 1996 drought, the SPI detected the onset of the drought at least 1 month in advance of the PDSI. This timeliness will be invaluable for improving mitigation and response actions of state and federal government to drought-affected regions in the future.

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Jay Lawrimore
,
Richard R. Heim Jr.
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Val Swail
, and
Phil J. Englehart
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Jason A. Otkin
,
Mark Shafer
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Brian Wardlow
,
Martha C. Anderson
,
Christopher Hain
, and
Jeffrey Basara
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Mary Noel
,
Deborah Bathke
,
Brian Fuchs
,
Denise Gutzmer
,
Tonya Haigh
,
Michael Hayes
,
Markéta Poděbradská
,
Claire Shield
,
Kelly Smith
, and
Mark Svoboda

Abstract

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), a weekly map depicting severity and spatial extent of drought, is used to communicate about drought in state and federal decision-making, and as a trigger in response policies, including the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural financial relief in the United States annually. An accompanying classification table helps interpret the map and includes a column of possible impacts associated with each level of drought severity. However, the column describing potential drought impacts is generalized for the entire United States. To provide more geographically specific interpretation of drought, state and regionally specific drought impact classification tables were developed by linking impacts chronicled in the Drought Impact Reporter (DIR) to USDM severity levels across the United States and Puerto Rico and identifying recurrent themes at each level. After creating state-level tables of impacts observed for each level of drought, a nationwide survey was administered to drought experts and decision-makers (n = 89), including the USDM authors, to understand whether the tables provided accurate descriptions of drought impacts in their state. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated the state table was an acceptable or good characterization of drought impacts for their respective state. This classification scheme was created with a reproducible qualitative methodology that used past observations to identify themes in drought impacts across multiple sectors to concisely describe expected impacts at different levels of drought in each state.

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Jason A. Otkin
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Eric D. Hunt
,
Trent W. Ford
,
Martha C. Anderson
,
Christopher Hain
, and
Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

Given the increasing use of the term “flash drought” by the media and scientific community, it is prudent to develop a consistent definition that can be used to identify these events and to understand their salient characteristics. It is generally accepted that flash droughts occur more often during the summer owing to increased evaporative demand; however, two distinct approaches have been used to identify them. The first approach focuses on their rate of intensification, whereas the second approach implicitly focuses on their duration. These conflicting notions for what constitutes a flash drought (i.e., unusually fast intensification vs short duration) introduce ambiguity that affects our ability to detect their onset, monitor their development, and understand the mechanisms that control their evolution. Here, we propose that the definition for “flash drought” should explicitly focus on its rate of intensification rather than its duration, with droughts that develop much more rapidly than normal identified as flash droughts. There are two primary reasons for favoring the intensification approach over the duration approach. First, longevity and impact are fundamental characteristics of drought. Thus, short-term events lasting only a few days and having minimal impacts are inconsistent with the general understanding of drought and therefore should not be considered flash droughts. Second, by focusing on their rapid rate of intensification, the proposed “flash drought” definition highlights the unique challenges faced by vulnerable stakeholders who have less time to prepare for its adverse effects.

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Kevin Collins
,
Jamie Hannaford
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Cody Knutson
,
Nicole Wall
,
Tonya Bernadt
,
Neville Crossman
,
Ian Overton
,
Mike Acreman
,
Sophie Bachmair
, and
Kerstin Stahl
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Kelly Helm Smith
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Michael Hayes
,
Henry Reges
,
Nolan Doesken
,
Kirsten Lackstrom
,
Kirstin Dow
, and
Amanda Brennan
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Mark Svoboda
,
Doug LeComte
,
Mike Hayes
,
Richard Heim
,
Karin Gleason
,
Jim Angel
,
Brad Rippey
,
Rich Tinker
,
Mike Palecki
,
David Stooksbury
,
David Miskus
, and
Scott Stephens

The Drought Monitor was started in spring 1999 in response to a need for improved information about the status of drought across the United States. It serves as an example of interagency cooperation in a time of limited resources. The Drought Monitor process also illustrates the creative use of Internet technologies to disseminate authoritative information about drought and to receive regional and local input that is in turn incorporated into the product. This paper describes the Drought Monitor and the interactive process through which it is created.

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