Global Drought Severity Index Launched

Drought monitoring is important for characterizing the timing, extent, and severity of drought for effective mitigation and water management.

Researchers at the University of California has launched the new satellite-based drought severity index.

Taking data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission (GRACE), the index adds terrestrial water storage (groundwater) to drought assessments, augmenting commonly used tools most often based on the amount of precipitation.

This index provides for accurate and continuous drought monitoring, which is necessary for effective water management and impact assessment.

The new index tracks groundwater storage changes, which affect soil moisture recharge and drought recovery.

UCI researchers have evaluated the performance of the GRACE-DSI in the continental United States by comparing it to the Palmer index and others that measure alterations in vegetation growth and surface soil moisture.

This new technique allows the climate community to draw a more thorough picture of the impact of drought in any corner of the world.

The GRACE-DSI shows potential for globally consistent and effective drought monitoring, particularly where sparse ground observations (especially precipitation) limit the use of traditional drought monitoring methods.