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Drought Monitoring

Soybean plant affected by drought.

Agriculture is often the first sector affected by the onset of drought. Drought differs from other natural hazards in several ways. First it is a slow-onset natural hazard often referred to as a creeping phenomenon. It accumulates slowly over a period of time, making its beginning and end difficult to determine.

Agricultural drought is characterized by a shortage of moisture in the root zone of crops and does not depend only of the amount of rainfall. The same amount rainfall in the summer or winter will have different impacts. A drought occurring in the summer, when temperatures are warmer and days longer are more apparent and cause more damage. Moderate drought during crop growth periods can result in stunted growth and reduced crop yields. A severe drought during the same period may result in total crop failure.

Several drought indices can help managers understand and monitor drought conditions, including the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), and also online warning and decision support tools.

At EnsoAg we have experience developing and implementing web-based decision support tools to monitor drought based on drought indices such as the Agricultural Reference Index for Drought (ARID) which is designed for better characterize agricultural droughts.

El NiƱo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast

Current forecast period: September, October and November