Drought Data Resources

Kelly Smith is the Director of Communications at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When Hack the Drought leadership recently asked her about the best data resources for hacktavists, she provided the following:

Which data is important really depends on what you want to do with it.  One of the tricky things about the US Drought Monitor is that it synthesizes huge amounts of data into a single two-dimensional map. It is deceptively simple, relying on experts’ best judgment to synthesize a lot of objective data and subjective information into a single two-dimensional map. It is not a model.

 That said, we have some data here, particularly as relates to the spatial characteristics of the US Drought Monitor, and that has gone into the analysis to produce the Drought Risk Atlas (http://droughtatlas.unl.edu). Chris can provide more detail.

 A whole lot more data is available if you know what to ask for. Some places to hone in on what data may be available:

Make sure you look at the Current Conditions collection on the U.S. Drought Monitor webpage? http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/SupplementalInfo/CurrentConditions.aspx That is a link to maps that are all based on data. See also the various monitoring products at drought.gov

We get a lot of data on climate conditions via the High Plains Regional Climate Center, www.hprcc.unl.edu. For California there is the Western Regional Climate Center, www.wrcc.dri.edu. See also the National Climatic Data Center, and CLIMOD: http://www.nrcc.cornell.edu/page_climod.html

Here is more info on climate data: https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data

 The U.S. Geological Survey, NRCS SNOTEL, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (in the east) are all good sources of hydrologic data.

 The US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is a good source of agricultural data on drought.

Some states have organizations such as the Texas Department of Environmental Quality or  the California Association of Water Associations that track water systems that have imposed mandatory or voluntary restrictions, which is a good indicator of how drought is affecting water suppliers.

California’s Department of Water Resources puts out a lot of information.

NASA also collects good data related to water.

The Pacific Institute (www.pacinst.org) would also be a good source for the kind of expertise that you are looking for. They are California-based and publish quite a bit of cutting-edge information on drought and water issues.

Other good sources of background would be our website: http://drought.unl.edu, and recordings from the 2014 Water for Food Conference, which focused on big data  –https://www.youtube.com/user/WaterForFood

Useful Links

U.S. Drought Monitor – droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

U.S. Drought Monitor California– droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CA

UC Rangeland Watershed Laboratory Drought Page – rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/main/drought.html

UC Sierra Foothill REC Drought Workshop January 2014 – sfrec.ucanr.edu/

UC California Drought Resources – ciwr.ucanr.edu/California_Drought_Expertise/

California Drought Watch – drought.ucdavis.edu/