Drought monitoring is challenging because of the considerable variability in the duration, intensity, and spatial extent among specific drought events. Climate and weather data traditionally have been used to monitor drought, but the information has lacked the spatial detail required for local livestock and forage producers to use for drought planning. In response, the NDMC is developing two tools, the Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) and the Vegetation Outlook (VegOut), which utilize a combination of climate, satellite, oceanic, and biophysical (land cover and soils information) data to map and monitor the impact of drought on general vegetation conditions. Both tools produce maps at 1-km2 spatial resolution that are updated every two weeks to reflect the changing vegetation conditions, tte goal is to create tools that provide timely and more spatially precise drought-related information that can be used by livestock and forage producers in their decision-making process, tte NDMC will provide these tools and information in readily accessible and usable formats that will be determined from producer feedback.
tte NDMC is working collaboratively with other researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to develop the VegDRI tool, which maps the spatial patterns of drought impact on the current vegetation conditions. VegDRI classifies seven categories of relative drought severity, ranging from extreme drought to an extremely moist spell, tte tool can be used to monitor drought conditions over large areas, but also has enough spatial precision to be used at county to sub-county levels.
tte NDMC is also working with UNL researchers to create the VegOut tool, which provides an outlook of the general vegetation conditions several weeks in advance. VegOut will provide 2-, 4-, and 6-week outlook maps that reflect the projected level of vegetation stress based on current vegetation conditions and climatic trends, tte three VegOut maps will be produced and updated in conjunction with the VegDRI maps.
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