Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



This article appeared in COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM. January 2003, volume 46, No.1


Drought affects virtually all regions of the world and results in significant economic, social, and environmental impacts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates annual drought-related losses in the U.S. at $6–$8 billion, which is more than any other natural hazard. Congress enacted the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) and farmers to be more proactive in managing drought risk. Through the NSF’s Digital Government Program, the USDA RMA is working with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Computer Science and Engineering Department, National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) to develop new geospatial decision-support tools to address agricultural drought hazards and identify regions of vulnerability in the management of drought risk. The goal of the National Agricultural Decision Support System (NADSS) research project is to develop a support system of geospatial analyses to enhance drought risk assessment and exposure analysis. Users can monitor progress and interact with the system by visiting