Global Drought Information System

Global Drought Information System

The Challenge

Droughts are produced by multiple environmental factors, and there is a lack of universal, scientific consensus on best practices for drought monitoring at global and continental scales. Rising temperatures, heat waves, increased evaporability accompanying climate change are elevating the predisposition towards drought formation and water scarcity.

The Solution

The Global Drought Information System (GDIS) provides protection for global agriculture, forests, and human habitation through innovating drought monitoring technology to enable them to operate close to near-real-time, realistic and high resolutions. GDIS explores the relationship between rates of drought incidence and linkages to climate change. GDIS innovates a web mapping geographical information system infrastructure, coupled with cloud processing technology, to support user-useful maps retrievable at high resolutions to process satellite imagery and to make high-resolution images accessible, at any point on the terrestrial globe, outside polar regions in minimal time.

Our Impact

  • The Global Drought Monitor depicts current drought conditions across the globe using a “bottom-up” approach Global Drought Monitor
  • The American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate published a Special Collection GDIS Drought Worldwide issue which included papers providing a comprehensive overview of the state of our understanding of drought, as well as recent research advances. A synthesis paper attempts to organize the many facets of drought throughout the world into a global view as well as to provide an overall assessment of high priority drought research challenges: here

How We Work

GDIS is an international initiative that compiles drought information from local to national providers, and compares drought conditions and resources worldwide. GDIS was the outcome of two international drought conferences that were sponsored by World Climate Research Program (WCRP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Global Drought Monitor depicts current global drought conditions by assessing individual nations on each continent and providing their conditions to the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and merged into the GDIS. Global drought indices and indicators are also provided to help show current conditions. There has been an increase in the severity of droughts and heat waves in Western USA, China, Australia, South America, South Asia, East Africa, West Africa, and Europe.

GDIS broadly focuses on monitoring current drought conditions, forecasting droughts based on available information and facilitating educational and awareness materials through collaborations with organizations and academic institutions. GDIS is an information system ingesting global space-based and land-based Earth observations for the purposes of:

  1. Monitoring and providing documentation of drought over the terrestrial land surface areas;
  2. Evaluating effectiveness of different techniques for drought prediction over the sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) forecasting time windows;
  3. Reviewing drought monitoring technologies at continental and global scale, and producing reliable documentation of the impact of climate change on drought; and
  4. Tracking atmospheric and oceanic teleconnections on regional drought incidence and other global teleconnections on drought worldwide.

GDIS improvements and innovations in drought monitoring and forecasting feed back into the other GEO Flagships and Initiatives.


For more information about the Global Drought Information System explore the website

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