Drought Prediction and Predictability

Major drought patterns are forced by major sea surface temperature (SST) patterns, and skillful drought predictability depends on skillful predictability of major SST patterns. Understanding physics of teleconnections between SST patterns and drought patterns is very important. Recent publications show that skillful prediction of decadal global-average temperature and North Atlantic SSTs is possible. Very encouraging preliminary results are emerging from the multiyear to decadal drought hindcasting using output from the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) coupled model intercomparison project 5 (CMIP5). Tests are also underway using the hybrid dynamical-statistical prediction system for decadal climate and hydrometeorology. Prediction of impacts and continuous interactions with stakeholders are vital for the success of drought policies guided by drought prediction and other information.

To cover the topic of drought prediction and predictability, a plenary session was held in which Dr. Vikram Mehta of the Center for Research on the Changing Earth System (USA) presented Drought Prediction and Predictability—An Overview (Mehta et al. 2014). This was followed by comments from three discussants from Kenya, Brazil, and the United States. The following recommendations were made in the session on drought prediction and predictability:

  • • Prediction of impacts and continuous interaction with stakeholders is vital for the success of drought policies guided by drought prediction and other information.
  • • Drought predictions cannot substitute for EWSs, but should be used to enhance existing drought monitoring and EWSs.
  • • A collaborative approach for research that takes into account user community needs should be promoted. Drought prediction needs many collaborative efforts from climate scientists and end users.
  • • The formation of collaborative platforms for scientists from developing countries to work with leading agencies such as NOAA and WMO should be promoted to develop capacity and to ensure sustainability in forecasting and communication.
  • • Establishment of networks to enhance knowledge and information sharing should be promoted to improve public understanding of and preparedness for drought.
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