As drought concerns spread in the southwestern and western portions of the United States, demand for the services of the National Drought Mitigation Center rises.
The center, located on the East Campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, is expanding to meet the growing need.
National Drought Mitigation Center Director Mike Hayes says the center, now in its 20th year, has had to rely on grants and contracts, tying its work to specifically funded tasks.
NOAA locating its drought center at UNL will allow for more research.
“And now we have a little bit more flexibility to look out three to five years and say what are the priorities of NOAA or the nation in terms of dealing with drought and drought resilience?” Hayes tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The Drought Mitigation Center has received regular funding from NOAA in the past, but the location of NOAA’s new drought center at UNL provides for more opportunity. Hayes says it will enhance the center’s capacity and provide for more emphasis on research.
Drought has much of the southwestern United States in its grip, including nearly crippling conditions in the once-lush valleys of California and the once-crowded rangeland of Texas. The drought has many concerned and many turning to the Drought Mitigation Center for help.
“I do think it’s a great opportunity for national-level discussions and conversations about drought and what works best in dealing with droughts for the future,” Hayes says.
Hayes says the expansion will allow the center to put theory into practice in an effort to better forecast and prepare for drought conditions.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]