Focusing on the California Drought
Since 2011, California has experienced one of its most severe and widespread droughts since record-keeping began in 1895. USGCRP-supported research helps advance drought science and provides the basis for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (Highlight 10), which aims to increase the capacity of the public to better prepare for and respond to drought events through regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS). The NOAA Drought Task Force, a group organized by NOAA and NIDIS involving scientists across the USGCRP agencies, helped bring drought science to decision makers. The group developed a timely assessment of the link between California droughts and El Niño events, of key relevance given the strong 2015–2016 El Niño. A new Task Force report demonstrates how research investments over the past decade have advanced the NIDIS DEWS and discusses opportunities for further progress in drought monitoring and prediction.
In addition, USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and NOAA jointly funded a multi-university research team to work with agricultural producers and decision makers to better communicate the uses and limitations of currently available drought products, develop high-resolution drought-monitoring products tailored for planning purposes, and identify needs for new information products. USGCRP drought scientists also played a significant role in the American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference on the California Drought held in Irvine, California in April 2015. The conference examined the broad range of issues associated with the drought, including meteorological factors, the nature of California’s water-delivery system, stakeholder needs and concerns, and policy and management solutions.