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Exploring New Opportunities for Drought Risk Assessment and Awareness to Enhance Drought Risk Management at the Local Levels

Elliot D Wickham, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Drought management in the United States has traditionally taken form of state-level drought since there is no Federal requirement that requires planning that is specifically drought focused. Overtime, drought planning has become more common practice at the state level, with 46 of the 50 states currently having either a drought mitigation or response plan established. Drought planning is also increasing at the sub-state and local level since state-level drought plans may not adequately reduce drought impacts at smaller scales. Despite the growth of drought planning efforts, drought management typically focuses on crisis management, reactive management approaches during a drought, rather than risk management that focuses on approaches to reduce impacts before a drought period. Successful drought risk management is built upon three pillars: (1) monitoring and early warning; (2) impact and vulnerability assessment; and (3) mitigation, preparedness, and response. This work is separated into three articles, focusing on the second and third pillars of drought risk management. The first article in this dissertation is a risk assessment of urban counties in the United States, providing the foundation for creating an Urban Drought Risk Index. The second article evaluates survey data of land use planners across the United States to understand their perceptions and awareness of drought. The final article uses the findings of a drought-specific Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) workshop (FEMA risk assessment process, focused solely on drought) in the Platte River Basin, NE to evaluate the current drought planning efforts in the study area. The combination of these three articles provide three new and effective opportunities to reduce drought risk at the local levels through increasing the integration of drought planning beyond the traditional drought planning disciplines, which allows for a more comprehensive drought risk management. In addition, approaches used in these three articles can be synthesized together through the use of a drought-specific THIRA process where land use planners are included, providing the ability to link the concepts, outcomes, and recommendations produced by the three articles.

Subject Area

Natural Resource Management|Land Use Planning

Recommended Citation

Wickham, Elliot D, "Exploring New Opportunities for Drought Risk Assessment and Awareness to Enhance Drought Risk Management at the Local Levels" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI27666525.