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An Early Warning System for Global Drought


IES scientist J. Vogt is co-author of a recently published article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that highlights progress made in setting up a Global Drought Early Warning System (GDEWS). The GDEWS aims to bring together global drought information from local, regional and continental drought monitoring and forecasting  systems, in order to make improved and efficient modelling and forecasting tools more accessible on a worldwide basis, and improve the speedy delivery of early warnings of drought events.

The IPCC has noted that as a result of climate change the frequency, intensity, duration and associated impacts of drought are projected to increase in many parts of the world, especially in already water-limited regions. Proactive steps need to be taken to anticipate such events so as to be able to prepare for them on a global scale.

Through a global partnership, the GDEWS will enhance existing local monitoring and forecasting systems and will ensure that timely information on drought is made available worldwide through a rapid monitoring and forecasting system. As such it will provide added value at the global scale as well as access to drought-related information for countries and regions without own monitoring and forecasting capabilities. This article describes tools that could be used to harmonise and improve the reliability and comparability of data from monitoring and forecasting systems in different parts of the world. Through the GDEWS, these tools can be made available to provide users (such as international organisations, regional and national authorities or relief agencies,) with the maximum possible lead time to put mitigation strategies in place.

The approach taken by the JRC’s European Drought Observatory (EDO, which serves as a model for similar systems in Latin America and Africa) is given as an example of how standard core indicators can be used to monitor and forecast drought, and detailed local drought information can be ‘stitched together’ to provide global coverage.

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