Web tool to help officials make drought-related decisions

Public Policy


Posted September 12, 2016 | View original publication

A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will help a University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team create a web-based tool to aid policymakers in making drought-related decisions.

The two-year, $284,588 grant from the NOAA’s Sectoral Applications Research Program will be used to develop a model that brings climate information to officials through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment process.

The model will use data to construct scenarios that illustrate the impact of drought over time. These scenarios will then be tested in Nebraska using data for the Platte River Basin. The final product will be an online tool that includes templates, guidelines and data resources for planners to build drought scenarios that can be replicated in all states and territories. Officials will be able to use the tool to mitigate and protect against adverse impacts of water-related disasters.

“This project has the potential to bridge the planning efforts of water resource professionals with more traditional disaster planning done by emergency management agencies,” said Denise Bulling, senior research director at the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center and lead researcher on the project. “The university’s research team is partnering with professionals in the field to ensure the process and products are useful to decision makers when they consider threats brought about by climate variability.”

The research team also includes Lisa Pytlik Zillig, senior research manager at the Public Policy Center; Crystal Stiles, applied climatologist and postdoctoral research associate at the High Plains Regional Climate Center; and Deborah Bathke, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.


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