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Essays on decision support for drought mitigation planning: A tale of three tools

Mark D Svoboda, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The fact that droughts cover all scales, both temporally and spatially, requires an approach to management of this natural hazard that is diverse and flexible. Just as there is no one definition of drought, there is no one prescribed way of planning or monitoring drought. Optimally, the best strategy calls for a multi-pronged approach aimed at dealing with droughts well in advance of their onset. The basic premise of a drought risk management approach is to plan and prepare for droughts given they are a normal part of most climate regimes and regions around the world. Such an approach is much preferred to a reactive, crisis-based approach that only deals with drought and its impacts after the fact. The foundation of a drought plan can be thought of as consisting of three “pillars”: drought monitoring and early warning, impacts and vulnerability/risk assessment and mitigation and response. This dissertation is separated into three papers that address portions of all of these pillars. The first paper is focused on the development of an evaluation method to analyze and grade state drought planning efforts in the United States. The second paper focuses on the development of a Drought Ready Communities program aimed at developing a guide and resource for drought risk management at the community scale. Finally, understanding one’s drought history, or climatology, is essential toward helping better understand where and when droughts and subsequent impacts have occurred, allowing for both the anticipation of what impacts may occur when droughts of various magnitudes return as well as serving as a preparation tool for the reduction or risk from a decision support role in drought mitigation planning. Knowing the frequency and magnitude (a function of severity and duration) of various degrees should be an essential part of the planning process. These three essays and their concepts are meant to work not only as stand-alone decision support tools, but also together as part of an overarching umbrella of drought mitigation strategies.

Subject Area

Area Planning and Development|Natural Resource Management|Atmospheric sciences

Recommended Citation

Svoboda, Mark D, "Essays on decision support for drought mitigation planning: A tale of three tools" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10142517.