Developing and evaluating drought indicators for decision-making

TitleDeveloping and evaluating drought indicators for decision-making
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSteinemann A., Iacobellis S.F, Cayan DR
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Date Published2015/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1525-755X
Accession NumberWOS:000359762700021
Keywordsclassification; drought; monitor; planning; triggers

Drought indicators can help to detect, assess, and reduce impacts of drought. However, existing indicators often have deficiencies that limit their effectiveness, such as statistical inconsistency, noncomparability, arbitrary metrics, and lack of historic context. Further, indicators selected for drought plans may be only marginally useful, and relatively little prior work has investigated ways to design operationally practical indicators. This study devises a generalizable approach, based on feedback from users, to develop and evaluate indicators for decision-making. This approach employs a percentile-based framework that offers clarity, consistency, and comparability among different indicators, drought levels, time periods, and spatial scales. In addition, it characterizes the evolution of droughts and quantifies their severity, duration, and frequency. User preferences are incorporated into the framework's parameters, which include percentile thresholds for drought onset and recovery, severity levels, anomalies, and consecutive time periods for triggering. To illustrate the approach and decision-making implications, the framework is applied to California Climate Division 2 and is used with decision-makers, water managers, and other participants in the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) California Pilot. Stakeholders report that the framework provides an easily understood and beneficial way to assess and communicate drought conditions, validly compare multiple indicators across different locations and time scales, quantify risks relative to historic droughts, and determine indicators that would be valuable for decision-making.

Short TitleJ. Hydrometeorol.
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