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Title: Facilitating the use of drought early warning information through interactions with stakeholders

item OTKIN, J. - University Of Wisconsin
item SHAFER, M. - University Of Oklahoma
item SVOBODA, M. - University Of Nebraska
item WARDLOW, B. - University Of Nebraska
item Anderson, Martha
item HAIN, C. - University Of Maryland
item BASARA, J. - University Of Oklahoma

Submitted to: American Meteorological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2014
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
Citation: Otkin, J., Shafer, M., Svoboda, M., Wardlow, B., Anderson, M.C., Hain, C., Basara, J. 2015. Facilitating the use of drought early warning information through interactions with stakeholders. American Meteorological Society. 96:1073-1078.

Interpretive Summary: Rapid onset drought events, referred to as "flash droughts", can have an impact on agriculture that is more severe than that associated with a slower developing but longer lasting drought simply because there is less time to prepare for the adverse effects of drought when it develops so quickly. A new satellite-derived Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) has been demonstrated to carry early warning signals of developing flash drought. The ESI reflects anomalies in evapotranspiration, or crop water use, which is closely tied to vegetative vigor in agricultural landscapes. Decreases in transpiration rates may precede visible degredation in the crop canopy by several weeks. This paper describes a series of focus group meetings convened in Oklahoma and Nebraska with stakeholders that benefit from drought early warning information, to introduce them to the ESI and obtain feedback on modifications in data format and delivery that would make this index more useful in realtime decision making. The two groups focused on different stakeholder groups, including ranchers and farmers, which may have very different informational needs and decision-making structures. The stakeholders were asked to assess example drought events using ESI data presented in different formats, and to provide feedback on which format was most useful. They were also asked to describe how access to drought early warning information would potentially affect their decisions. Many attendees were excited about potential applications of the drought early warning tools and expressed a strong desire to optimize and refine these tools to match their specific needs and decision making processes. These meetings facilitated interactions between researchers and stakeholders that provided valuable feedback that will improve the use of these datasets for drought mitigation efforts and illustrates the importance of engaging stakeholders when developing new tools.

Technical Abstract: No technical abstract required in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).