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AMS Insights are perspectives meant to connect AMS Statements with views on real world events.  We hope these views help shed light on various aspects of the weather, water, and climate enterprise and the relationship we all share with that.

AMS Statements

AMS Statements represent our official position on various topics relating to weather, water, and climate.

Drought Monitoring, Prediction, and Adaptation

August 2014

This summer, we are seeing the serious impacts of drought in the western United States, with California now under extreme drought conditions. We are also witnessing Syria suffer through a war precipitated in part by a severe drought and crop failure, featured in a new article by Dr. Peter H. Gleick in the July issue of the AMS journal Weather, Climate, and Society.

There is an increasing need to understand the nature and impacts of drought and the risks it presents to societies around the globe. The AMS Statement on Drought indicates that drought accounts for 24 percent of all economic losses from major weather events. While some aspects of drought are unavoidable and unpredictable, it is possible to better prepare for drought on local and regional levels with proactive policies that can potentially mitigate its effects. New technologies such as the Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS) and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are improving forecasting and modeling, allowing researchers to better understand the dynamic interactions between land, oceans, and atmosphere.

The severity of drought can be measured not only in frequency and intensity, but also by the number of people at risk, their degree of risk, and the resiliency of natural systems and society. Because climate change adds uncertainty to existing water management design and planning challenges, it is imperative that we examine policies that promote the development of regionally appropriate drought monitoring, prediction, and adaptation strategies.

Read the Full AMS Statement on Drought

Further Reading: