Step 6: Identify Research Needs and Fill Institutional Gaps

The NDPC should identify specific research needs that would contribute to a better understanding of drought, its impacts, mitigation alternatives, and needed policy instruments, leading to a reduction of risk. These needs are likely to originate from the state-level drought task forces that are implemented to develop mitigation plans. It will be the task of the commission to collate these needs into a set of priorities for future action and funding priorities.

Many examples of potential research needs could be mentioned. First, improving understanding of how climate change may affect the incidence of drought events and their severity, particularly at a regional scale, would provide critical information that could facilitate the risk reduction measure. As the science of climate change improves and the resolution of computer models increases, this information will be invaluable to policy makers, managers, and other decision makers. Also critically important are improved early warning techniques and delivery systems, improved understanding of the linkages between indicators and indices and impacts to provide key decision points or thresholds for implementing mitigation actions, and the development of decision support tools for managers.

It will also become apparent during the policy development and preparedness planning process that institutional gaps exist that will hamper the policy and planning process. For example, serious gaps in monitoring station networks may exist, or existing meteorological, hydrological, and ecological networks may need to be automated and networked so that data can be retrieved in a timely manner in support of an early warning system. Archiving the impacts of drought is also a critical component of the process to help identify and quantify losses and discern trends in impact reduction. It is expected that Step 6 will be carried out concurrently with Steps 4 and 5 of the policy and plan development process.

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