National Drought Mitigation Center


Drought Center celebrates 20+ years of protecting livelihoods

March 24, 2016

The UNL community is invited to help the National Drought Mitigation Center celebrate 20+ years of reducing drought vulnerability and making drought maps. The celebration is 4 to 6 p.m. April 22 at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 33rd and Holdrege streets.

Don Wilhite established the drought center at UNL in 1995. Wilhite and others had noticed that historically, the prevailing response to drought had been to treat each one as a separate act of God, requiring a comparable act of Congress to dispense relief. Based on climatology – a long-term understanding of weather patterns – Wilhite founded the center to help spread the idea that drought is a recurrent feature of nearly every climate on the planet, and that people should be prepared rather than taken by surprise the next time a drought occurs. Wilhite had previously established the International Drought Information Center.

Michael J. Hayes has been director of the National Drought Mitigation Center since 2007.

The drought center promotes the idea that decision-makers at all levels should know how they will recognize drought when it occurs (monitoring), understand how drought affects them (track impacts and conduct a vulnerability analysis) and take steps ahead of time to reduce the effects of future droughts (mitigation).

The NDMC has developed several tools to help decision-makers, including:
• The U.S. Drought Monitor and related data and visualizations:
• The Drought Risk Atlas:
• The Drought Impact Reporter:
• The Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI):

Since its establishment, the center has also:
• worked with decision makers across the country to develop drought plans. The center and its research partners have also developed drought planning guidance for decision makers at all scales. Products include Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch; Drought Ready Communities; and Planning and Drought (with the American Planning Association).
• worked with countries around the world on drought planning and on tailoring drought early warning systems for specific needs.
• established an extensive website ( that has been compared to an online textbook for drought planning. It includes Drought Basics, Drought for Kids, a collection of state and local drought plans, a database of drought management strategies, and much, much more.

In addition to ongoing relationships with the USDA and NOAA, the NDMC works with many federal agencies, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, and more. Internationally, the NDMC works with the United Nations and many of its agencies, donor organizations such as the USAID and World Bank, with various countries and regional entities, and with non-governmental organizations.

The center has grown to about 20 faculty and staff from an original group of six. In addition to climatologists, the core expertise, the staff includes a variety of social scientists.

The celebration was originally scheduled for December, was postponed and now is rescheduled.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend: