Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 94, Issue 6 (June 2013) pp. 776-785; DOI:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00176.1


The need for a global drought early warning framework. Drought has had a significant impact on civilization throughout history in terms of reductions in agricultural productivity, potable water supply, and economic activity, and in extreme cases this has led to famine. Every continent has semiarid areas, which are especially vulnerable to drought. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted that average annual river runoff and water availability are projected to decrease by 10%–13% over some dry and semiarid regions in mid and low latitudes, increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of drought, along with its associated impacts. The sheer magnitude of the problem demands efforts to reduce vulnerability to drought by moving away from the reactive, crisis management approach of the past toward a more proactive, risk management approach that is centered on reducing vulnerability to drought as much as possible while providing early warning of evolving drought conditions and possible impacts. Many countries, unfortunately, do not have adequate resources to provide early warning, but require outside support to provide the necessary early warning information for risk management. Furthermore, in an interconnected world, the need for information on a global scale is crucial for understanding the prospect of declines in agricultural productivity and associated impacts on food prices, food security, and potential for civil conflict.