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 percent-13 percent 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. This paper highlights the recent progress made toward a Global Drought Early Warning Monitoring Framework (GDEWF), an underlying partnership and framework, along with its Global Drought Early Warning System (GDEWS), which is its interoperable information system, and the organizations that have begun working together to make it a reality. The GDEWF aims to improve existing regional and national drought monitoring and forecasting capabilities by adding a global component, facilitating continental monitoring and forecasting (where lacking), and improving these tools at various scales, thereby increasing the capacity of national and regional institutions that lack drought early warning systems or complementing existing ones. A further goal is to improve coordination of information delivery for drought-related activities and relief efforts across the world. This is especially relevant for regions and nations with low capacity for drought early warning. To do this requires a global partnership that leverages the resources necessary and develops capabilities at the global level, such as global drought forecasting combined with early warning tools, global real-time monitoring, and harmonized methods to identify critical areas vulnerable to drought. Although the path to a fully functional GDEWS is challenging, multiple partners and organizations within the drought, forecasting, agricultural, and water-cycle communities are committed to working toward its success.
Administration and Management; Meteorology and Climatology
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society; 94; 6; 776-785