Climate Risk Areas Initiative News

What is Flash Drought? Takeaways from the NIDIS Flash Drought Workshop

  • 9 February 2021
What is Flash Drought? Takeaways from the NIDIS Flash Drought Workshop

The 2017 Northern Plains flash drought’s swift onset and severity were not forecasted, and it resulted in fires that burned 4.8 million acres and U.S. agricultural losses in excess of $2.6 billion dollars. Episodes like this have sparked intense interest in flash drought and a clear conceptualization of what it is in both the research community and the end user/applications community. To address this need, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) held a virtual workshop in December 2020 that convened researchers and end users to initiate a process to develop a shared understanding/definition of flash drought, and identify research needs and tools to improve flash drought early warning. Over three days of meeting there was broad participation (around 100 attendees each day) and a robust sharing of perspectives through breakout sessions, plenary discussion, and an active chat box. Attendees generally agreed this was a valuable first step in the process of characterizing flash drought and developing a path forward for research. Near-term next steps include a comprehensive workshop report to be published in early 2021, developing a more concrete characterization of flash drought, and additional outreach and forums.

Learn about key takeaways from the workshop »




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