WMO Expert Meeting Recommends Agricultural Drought Indices

8 June 2010: Nineteen scientists from all regions adopted recommendations for monitoring agricultural droughts in an effort to ensure better understanding of the conditions that are critical for regular food production.

The recommendations were adopted at the Expert Meeting on Agricultural Drought Indices, which convened from 2-4 June 2010, in Murcia, Spain, and was organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with support from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) and hosted by the Hydrographic Confederation of Segura. The recommendations from the expert meeting are based on a review of current practices and call for moving beyond the use of just rainfall data in the computation of indices for the description of agricultural drought and its impacts on agriculture. In the context of climate variability and change, water scarcity and food security, the recommendations stress the importance of using more comprehensive data on rainfall, temperature and soils in computing drought indices. They call for closer cooperation among authorities responsible for addressing drought issues at local, national and regional levels. The experts also identified the need for better soil information and establishment of soil moisture monitoring networks where they do not currently exist.

In order to encourage the use of common agricultural drought indices around the world, they underscored the need to develop common  frameworks for drought monitoring or early warning. The experts therefore recommended that WMO conduct a survey to compile and assess the capacities and future needs of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in building such common frameworks for national agricultural drought early warning systems.

The meeting was organized based on a call in the Lincoln Declaration, which was adopted in December 2009, for the establishment of a working group to recommend the most comprehensive indices to characterize agricultural droughts. [WMO Press Release] [Meeting Website and Recommendations]