University of Nebraska researchers will use a nearly $300,000 federal grant to help policy makers better prepare to respond to drought.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $284,588 grant will finance two years of research to create a web-based tool to help governments make drought-related decisions.
Senior Research Director Denise Bulling with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center says policymakers don’t always connect drought with emergency response.
“Hopefully, this will bridge that gap between what’s happening in water resource planning and what’s happening in traditional emergency response planning,” Bulling tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Bulling says researchers hope to bridge that gap between traditional emergency response planning and resource planning by using the Federal Emergency Management Agency planning process that incorporates realistic impacts of a long-term drought. The challenge, she says, is wading through all the data available and the numerous tools which have been developed to decide what is useful and what is not.
Climatologist Deborah Bathke at the National Drought Mitigation Center at UNL says researchers will explore a way to tie together the FEMA planning process with the drought risk management tools available at the center.
Two years of data drawn from the Platte River Basin will be used to create the model.
Bathke says those who would use it will be consulted.
“The exact form and what that tool looks like will depend on the feedback and the interactions that we have with stakeholders in the region and in response to what they’re needs are,” Bathke tells us.
Bathke says this web-based tool will not be something developed in a laboratory, but resources will be taken into the field, tested, and refined to be useful to policymakers.
The grant comes from the NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program. Researchers hope to build a tool that can be used throughout the country to plan for and respond to water-related disasters.
The research team also includes Lisa Pytlik Zillig, senior research manager at the Public Policy Center; Crystal Stiles, applied climatologist and postdoctoral research associate at the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]