Toward Global Drought Early Warning Capability: Expanding International Cooperation for the Development of a Framework for Monitoring and Forecasting

Pozzi W, Sheffield J, Stefanski R, Cripe D, Pulwarty R, Vorgt JV, Heim jr. RR, Brewer MJ, Svoboda M, Westerhoff R, van Djik AIJM, Lloyd-Hughes B, Pappenberger F, Werner M, Dutra E, Wetterhall F, Wagner W, Schubert S, Mo K, Nicholson M, Bettio L, Nunez L, vans Beek R, Beirkens M, de Gonçalves LGG, de Mattos JGZ, Lawford R
AMS, BAMS June 2013,

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Drought is a global problem that has far-reaching impacts, especially on vulnerable populations in developing regions. This paper highlights the need for a Global Drought Early Warning System (GDEWS), the elements that constitute its underlying framework (GDEWF), and the recent progress made toward its development. Many countries lack drought monitoring systems, as well as the capacity to respond via appropriate political, institutional, and technological frameworks, and these have inhibited the development of integrated drought management plans or early warning systems. The GDEWS will provide a source of drought tools and products via the GDEWF for countries and regions to develop tailored drought early warning systems for their own users. A key goal of a GDEWS is to maximize the lead time for early warning, allowing drought managers and disaster coordinators more time to put mitigation measures in place to reduce the vulnerability to drought. To address this, the GDEWF will take both a top-down approach to provide global realtime drought monitoring and seasonal forecasting, and a bottom-up approach that builds upon existing national and regional systems to provide continental-to-global coverage. A number of challenges must be overcome, however, before a GDEWS can become a reality, including the lack of in situ measurement networks and modest seasonal forecast skill in many regions, and the lack of infrastructure to translate data into useable information. A set of international partners, through a series of recent workshops and evolving collaborations, has made progress toward meeting these challenges and developing a global system.