Drought Vulnerability Indicators Project
This Western Water Assessment-funded project, “A Drought Impact and Vulnerability Indicator Suite” led by Center director Bill Travis with research assistant Kristin Gangwer, has spent the past year creating a set of indicators for assessing the impacts of drought across different sectors (urban, agricultural, water, recreation), with the goal of developing both research-quality time series that can be normalized and analyzed for trends, and applied indicators that can help managers assess impacts and changing vulnerabilities. The search for and collection of indicators goes back a long way in impacts research, so there is a track record to build on. However, a lack of continuity and changes in baselines, vulnerabilities, and monitoring programs, have made it difficult to develop indicators useful for inter-comparison, especially for drought with its diffuse impacts. The project has canvassed existing indicators and determined the appropriate time scales and geographical frameworks for measuring drought impacts and vulnerability, with an initial focus on the Interior West. A publicly accessible “dashboard” of drought indicators is under development.