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R. Pulwarty , J. Verdin , L. Darby, C. McNutt and the NIDIS Implementation Team. The National Integrated Drought Information System. Overview of NIDIS NIDIS Act of 2006 NIDIS Objectives & Structure Drought Portal NIDIS Pilot Projects

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r pulwarty j verdin l darby c mcnutt and the nidis implementation team
R. Pulwarty, J. Verdin, L. Darby, C. McNutt

and the NIDIS Implementation Team

The National Integrated Drought

Information System


Overview of NIDIS

    • NIDIS Act of 2006
    • NIDIS Objectives & Structure
    • Drought Portal
    • NIDIS Pilot Projects
  • Summary of the Lake Blackshear and Apalachicola River & Bay Meetings
  • Overview of Goals and Objectives of the Meeting
  • ACF Data Committee

National Integrated Drought Information System

“Drought is the most obstinate and pernicious of the dramatic events that Nature conjures up. It can last longer and extend across larger areas than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earth quakes…causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and dashing hopes and dreams.”

US National Drought Policy Commission Report, May 2000

Public Law 109-430 (The NIDIS Act 2006)

“Enable the Nation to move from a reactive to a more proactive approach to managing drought risks and impacts”

“better informed and more timely drought-related decisions leading to reduced impacts and costs”




National Integrated Drought Information System


“A dynamic and accessible drought information system that provides users with the ability to determine the potential impacts of drought and the associated risks they bring, and the decision support tools needed to better prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought.”

Public Law 109-430 (Signed by the President December 2006)



NIDIS Objectives

  • Creating a drought early warning informationsystem
    • Coordinating national drought monitoring and forecasting systems
    • Providing an interactive drought information clearinghouseand delivery system for products and services—including an internet portal and standardized products (databases, forecasts, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), maps, etc)
    • Designing mechanisms for improving and incorporating information to support coordinated preparedness and planning


nidis what it is and isn t
NIDIS: What it is and isn’t
  • NIDIS isn’t……
    • a regulatory program and doesn’t establish minimum flow requirements
    • a decision maker that tells you how to plan for drought
      • Will not dictate indicators and triggers that should be used
    • a mediator between conflicting interests
    • a mechanism for declaring drought
  • NIDIS is charged with…..
    • providing better coordination for existing national drought monitoring and forecasting systems
      • Also, informs how to improve these systems
    • providing data, products, and processes that inform existing planning and preparedness efforts
    • providing an interactive drought information clearinghouse and delivery system for products and services


NIDIS Governance: Executive Council

NIDIS Program Office

NIDIS Implementation Team: Over 50 Federal, state, tribal and private sector representatives


NIDIS Technical Working Groups


Drought Portal

Public Awareness

And Education






Research and



Monitoring and


Integrated Drought Information Systems

Drought Early Warning System Design-Information clearinghouse, Pilots, and Implementation

drought and water resources federal partnerships
Drought and Water Resources Federal Partnerships

Drought and Flood ImpactsAssessments and Scenarios

Monitoring & Forecasting

NIDIS-Information Services in support of Adaptation

Engaging Preparedness &


Communication and Outreach


The NIDIS U.S. Drought Portal



Key Clearinghouse Functions:

Credible, Accessible, Timely Information on

Where are drought conditions now?

Does this event look like other events?

How is the drought affecting me?

Will the drought continue?

Where can I go for help?

Portlet example:

NWS River Forecast


Ohio River

Water Resources


Ecosystem recovery

NIDIS Early Warning Systems PilotsHighlighted-first round prototypes; Others-Regional DEWS & transferability


Columbia River Basin

Great Lakes

Chesapeake Bay



Great Plains

Colorado River Basin


Tennessee Valley


from pilots to a national dews
From Pilots to a National DEWS

Prototyping approaches/methods


Colorado River Basin


Regional DEWS:

Chesapeake Bay; Great Plains; Tennessee Valley; Montana; Columbia River Basin etc.


National DEWS


Pilot Implementation

Upper Colorado River Basin:

  • Categories of drought information users & scales of analysis


  • Upper Basin down to Lake Mead:
  • Large reservoir operations and triggers (full basin scale)
    • Large reservoir operations and triggers (Powell/Mead)
  • Sub-basin:
    • Inter- and Intra-basin transfers; Front range urban-agriculture-Changing water demand during drought
    • Ecosystem health/services including recreation and tourism impacts

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service

USFS: Region 2

USBR: Eastern Colorado Area Office, Great Plains Region, Office of Policy and Programs, Research and Development

USGS: Colorado Water Science Center, Central Region, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center



Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR)

Colorado State Climatologist

Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD)

Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB)

CU – Western Water Assessment, CIRES, and CADSWES

Denver Water Board

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD)

Wyoming State Engineer

Wyoming State Climatologist

Utah State Climatologist

Desert Research Institute/WRCC

Pilot Implementation

Upper Colorado River Basin:

Scoping Workshop, Boulder CO, October 2008


NIDIS – Upper Colorado River Basin Pilot

  • Actions from the Scoping Workshop
  • Inventory and assessment of drought indicators and triggers presently used in the UCRB
  • Develop a UCRB-specific drought monitor
  • Facilitate web access to indicator and trigger observational data and information products
  • Perform a monitoring networks gap analysis for the UCRB
  • Develop new/improved monitoring and impacts information
Interviews and Focus Groupsconducted by the Colorado Climate Center exploring drought indicators, triggers and data needs by sector

USBR (Grand Junction and Loveland offices)

Colorado Division of Wildlife

Colorado DNR (state and local)

Denver Water and other smaller water providers

Northwest Council of Governments (water quality)

Watershed protection groups

USDI (BLM, NPS) and other resource managers

Colorado River Water Conservation District

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

EXCEL Energy

Grand County interest group

Summit County interest group

Fraser Experimental Forest

Water Availability Task Force

Winter Park Resorts and other ski area representatives

Other (discussed with WY and UT State Climatologists, but no interviews with users outside Colorado)

general findings
General Findings

Results vary by sector and by individual user based on “exposure to drought risk” and most (not all) users track available hydro-climatic data and projections from existing sources, at least at critical times of year

Water rights and the prior appropriation doctrine dictates “exposure and potential risk and impacts” for pretty much all surface water users. River “calls” are the ultimate triggers and indicators

Operators of the major reservoirs systematically said “our jobs are easiest during drought but our critical decisions and errors are made during high flows”

Most surface water interests said “I’m not that worried about drought in this basin until it is at least a 3-year drought

Drought indices are less likely to be used in decision making but more likely to be used for general comparison with other geographic regions and to communicate to the public or to non technical oversight groups (Boards) why drought actions like conservation or curtailment may be needed

requested information by users
Requested information by users

More detailed local monitoring

better forecasts

“hand holding” for interpretation and application of complex drought information (including the use of available indexes)

better elevational knowledge of precip and anomalies

better historical perspective on streamflow and reservoir data

easier one-stop shopping for all information

inclusion of water demand

emphasis on “Familiar Analogs” “It is now as dry as 19__”

other ucrb activities
Other UCRB Activities
  • NRCS Revised Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) for Colorado
  • Partnership with CUAHSI to Develop Drought Index System Architecture
  • Integrate CPC objective climate forecasts into RFC Ensemble Streamflow Predictions (ESP)
  • UCRB Water Demand Spatial Analysis
  • Reconciling Projections of 21st Century Colorado River Flows
  • Coordination with Colorado Water Conservation Board and Revision of State Drought Mitigation and Response Plan

Pilot Implementation

Upper Colorado River Basin

Year 2 Actions

Prototyping/gaming: Given better data and information coordination, would responses have been improved for past events? Assess:

  • Value of improved information using past conditions
  • Responses for projections/scenarios (seasons, decadal, change)
  • Develop EWS Fora
  • Feedback on priorities (e.g. data gaps) to Executive Council
ucrb summary
UCRB Summary
  • Identified set of common problems
  • Assessing gaps in monitoring, forecasting, and data dissemination
  • How do people in the UCRB think about drought
  • Critical Research Questions
  • Ways to Improve Coordination & Preparedness
  • Evaluation: Do people make better decisions with better information
pilot implementation southeast us
Pilot ImplementationSoutheast US
  • Yadkin-Pee Dee
  • Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint
  • Catawba-Wateree
  • Southeast United States Pilot
    • Chapel Hill – July 2009
    • Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Basin Scoping Workshop – Lake Blackshear, GA – Dec 2009

Agencies represented at the Lake Blackshear meeting

ACF Stakeholders Organization

Alabama Office of Water Resources

Apalachicola Riverkeeper

Auburn University Agriculture Extension

Department of Natural Resource

Environmental Protection Agency

Georgia Environmental Protection Division

Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center

Muscogee Nation of Florida

National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska


Northwest Florida Water Management District

Southeast Indigenous Peoples' Center

Southern Co.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Geological Survey

University of Alabama-Huntsville

University of Georgia

University of South Carolina

key issues for the pilot to address as determined by attendees at the lake blackshear meeting
Key issues for the Pilot to address, as determined by attendees at the Lake Blackshear meeting:
  • Gaps in understanding
    • Water availability and demand
    • The role of groundwater in the basin water budget
  • Gaps in measurements
    • Perform a data inventory for the basin (Led by Pam Knox)
    • Determine what data gaps need to be filled for adequate basin-scale coverage
  • Presentation of information
    • Present water information with high visual impact (e.g., demonstrate the impacts of different lake levels or river flows on recreational use with easy to understand graphics)
    • Present water information at the basin scale
    • Data related to drought monitoring and forecasting should be made available at a single user-friendly web site
key issues for the pilot to address as determined by attendees at the lake blackshear meeting con t
Key issues for the Pilot to address, as determined by attendees at the Lake Blackshear meeting (con’t):
  • Education
    • Educate the public about the causes and impacts of drought throughout the basin
    • Educate the state legislatures so they understand drought adequately enough to make decisions that enhance the states' response to drought
  • Drought Indicators
    • Develop drought indicators that accurately represent the current stage of drought (e.g., various lake levels at Lake Lanier can be tied to different stages of drought)
    • Make sure this drought indicator information is accessible and understandable to the public
  • Forecasting
    • Ensemble Streamflow Prediction models need low-flow calibrations
    • Develop a low-flow data base and products for assessing and forecasting drought

Upper Chattahoochee

Middle Chattahoochee-Flint

Apalachicola River & Bay

acf basin workshops meetings
ACF Basin Workshops & Meetings
  • ACF Scoping Workshop – Lake Blackshear, GA: Dec 2009
  • Army Corps of Engineers – Mobile, AL: March 2010
  • Apalachicola Sub-basin – Apalachicola, FL: April 2010
  • Middle Chattahoochee & Flint Sub-basin - GA : May 2010
  • Intertribal Meeting – Tama Creek Reservation, GA: June/July 2010
  • Upper Chattahoochee - Sub-basin: June 2010
  • Full basin – Fall 2010?

Apalachicola River & Bay

April 27/28, 2010

Agencies represented…

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve

Apalachicola Riverkeeper

City of Apalachicola

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Florida Sea Grant Extension Franklin County

Florida State University

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Northwest Florida Water Management District

Southern Nuclear

University of Florida

recommended actions or items to investigate
Recommended Actions or Items to Investigate
  • Data
    • Water balance by region and sector
    • Consolidate data across sources for streamflows, water table depth, reservoir evaporation and reservoir levels
    • Basin inflow information
    • Water use information, particularly agricultural use
    • Groundwater pumping rates from GA
    • QA/QC issues for the 3 gages on the Apalachicola that are maintained by the Corps
    • USGS has invited other agencies to submit well data to the US Climate Response Network; USGS will compute stats, etc.
recommended actions
Recommended Actions
  • Develop and provide general public with drought information -- data visualizations, historical comparisons, educational materials
  • Fill information gaps
    • Seasonal precipitation forecasts in November, reassess by mid-February
    • Improved forecasts for summer, northern basin
    • Assess stakeholders – information needs, possible applications
    • Value of water to natural ecosystems and ecosystem services and biological drought impacts
    • Plain English interpretations of technical products released by the NWS
recommended actions1
Recommended Actions
  • Can we have input into the Corps water control manual?
    • Incorporation of ENSO phase effects
    • Drought recovery
      • Refill issues once the rain has started again
possible tools mechanisms
Possible Tools & Mechanisms
  • Groundwater and Corps lake levels available at one web site, with enough data to provide historical context
  • Tri-state webinars to review ACF basin met and hydro data; could feed into the drought monitor via drought monitor author participation
  • Public discussion boards for drought
    • Something for the general public
    • Something for more technical folks
  • Climate outlook presentations to ACF Stakeholders
possible areas for research
Possible areas for Research
  • Drought Indicators
    • Develop indicators for entering a dry period
    • Learn more about how to relate the timing of drought onset to impacts – connect to physical data
  • Flows needed for endangered species
workshop goals
Workshop Goals
  • This is the second of 3 sub-basin meetings – we will be combining information learned from this meeting with information learned at the other two meetings
    • Information sharing
      • Background about the Middle Chattahoochee & Flint River Basins
      • Lessons learned during previous droughts
    • Brainstorming & discussions
      • How can we make dealing with the next drought easier?
      • Using your post-drought 20/20 vision, what would have made your job easier during the last drought?
    • Pulling it all together
      • What are 3 or 4 activities or products that we should consider as key pieces in the design of a drought early warning information system for the ACF basin?
steering committee
Steering Committee
  • John Christy, AL State Climatologist, Univ. of Alabama
  • Stan Cook, Chief of Fisheries, DCNR
  • Keith Ingram, Univ. of Florida
  • Inchul Kim, GA EPD
  • Tom Littlepage, ADECA
  • Mark Masters, H2O Policy Center
  • Jim Phillips, Middle Chattahoochee Water Coalition
  • Lynn Sisk, Chief, Water Quality Branch, Water Division, ADEM
  • PuneetSrivastava, Assoc. Professor of Ecological Engineering, Auburn University
nidis acf data group activities
NIDIS ACF Data Group Activities
  • Group contains about 15 members
  • Met three times by teleconference
  • Set up a Google Docs spreadsheet of data sets

that group can edit and enrich

  • Currently discussing how to disseminate the dataset and solicit contributions from other

user groups and stakeholders

dataset spreadsheet
Dataset Spreadsheet

Categories of data collected:

  • Remotely sensed observations
    • satellite, lidar, radar
  • Surface-based observations
    • weather, hydrology, soils
  • Biological datasets
    • fish populations, plant surveys
  • Reanalysis and model datasets
    • PRISM climate, salinity models
next steps
Next steps
  • We need additional input of data sets to improve the database
  • We are exploring the development of a user group on Google or Drought.org for ongoing dialog and suggestions
  • We are developing informational material to bring to conferences and post online
  • Identify who is using the data and information
  • Identify monitoring and information gaps and how delivery could be improved

Please help us expand our spreadsheet!

Contact Pam Knox, pknox@uga.edu