US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Hydro-Meterological Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, 2015


U.S. Government work


Drought monitoring is an essential component of drought risk management. It is usually carried out using drought indices/indicators that are continuous functions of rainfall and other hydrometeorological variables. This chapter presents a few examples of how remote sensing and hydrologic modeling techniques are being used to generate a suite of drought monitoring indicators at dekadal (10-day), monthly, seasonal, and annual time scales for several selected regions around the world. Satellite-based rainfall estimates are being used to produce drought indicators such as standardized precipitation index, dryness indicators, and start of season analysis. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index is being used to monitor vegetation condition. Several satellite data products are combined using agrohydrologic models to produce multiple short- and long-term indicators of droughts. All the data sets are being produced and updated in near-real time to provide information about the onset, progression, extent, and intensity of drought conditions. The data and products produced are available for download from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) data portal at http:// The availability of timely information and products support the decision-making processes in drought-related hazard assessment, monitoring, and management with the FEWS NET. The drought-hazard monitoring approach perfected by the U.S. Geological Survey for FEWS NET through the integration of satellite data and hydrologic modeling can form the basis for similar decision support systems. Such systems can operationally produce reliable and useful regional information that is relevant for local, district-level decision making.