AUWRC SHOWCASES A NEW PARTNERSHIP AT THE INAUGURAL SOUTHEAST DROUGHT EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS (SE DEWS) PARTNERS DIALOGUE MEETING
The Auburn University Water Resources Center’s (AUWRC) Programs & Communications Coordinator, Rachel McGuire, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s (ACES) Associate Extension Professor & Extension Specialist, Kent Stanford attended the inaugural Southeast Drought Early Warning System (SE DEWS) Partners Dialogue Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia from August 9-10, 2022. The meeting was coordinated by the NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and hosted by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).
The SE DEWS is a collaborative federal, regional, state, and local interagency effort to improve drought early warning capacity and build long-term drought resilience throughout the region. The SE DEWS was officially formed in 2022 by NOAA NIDIS when two former DEWS (the Coastal Carolinas DEWS formed in 2012 and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin DEWS formed in 2009) were combined and expanded.
The 2022–2025 Southeast Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) Strategic Plan identifies key outcomes and activities that will build drought early warning capabilities and resilience in the region.
The AUWRC has been an active participant of the ACF DEWS since its inception. One of its long-lasting contributions has been hosting and coordinating the monthly ACF River Basin Drought & Water Webinar series. The webinar series ran for 12 years, most recently hosted by AUWRC’s Rachel McGuire since 2018. Webinar speakers represented the Florida State Climatologist Office, USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center, the Alabama Office of Water Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers – Mobile District, Apalachicola Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the NOAA National Weather Service’s Southeast River Forecast Center.
An ACF River Basin Drought & Water Webinar Reunion in Atlanta. From left: David Zierden – FSU, Paul Ankcorn – USGS SAWSC, Rachel McGuire – AUWRC, Meredith Muth – NOAA NIDIS, Todd Hamill and Jeff Dobur – NOAA NWS SERFC, and James Hathorn, USACE-Mobile District. Photo Credit: Meredith Muth
A more recent contribution of AUWRC to the ACF DEWS was heavy involvement in the ACF River Basin Drought & Water Dashboard as well as the Drought in the ACF River Basin StoryMap. The ACF Dashboard was such a hit, that it led to the creation of the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River Basin Drought & Water Dashboard!
Nearly 80 attendees represented more than 10 states attended the SE DEWS Partners Dialogue Meeting. Attendees included climatologists, meteorologists, hydrologists, researchers, water supply managers, and outreach personnel. The state of Alabama was well-represented by Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Office of the Alabama State Climatologist at University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affair’s (ADECA) Office of Water Resources.
Dr. Lee Ellenburg, Assistant State Climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville presents at the 2022 Southeast DEWS Partners Dialogue Meeting. Photo Credit: Rachel McGuire
Themes of special sessions included approaches to monitoring including how state contribute to and use the U.S. Drought Monitor, linking monitoring to decisons and response at the state and local level, long-term drought planning processes, best practices for experts to translate drought information and reach a broader audience, the current status of drought impact reporting in the Southeast, and more.
A media panel included (from left) Terah Boyd of WSB-TV, Molly Brown of NPR WABE, and Drew Kann of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Photo Credit: Meredith Muth
McGuire and Stanford presented a new partnership, the Alabama Drought Reporting and Condition Monitoring Program, between the AUWRC, ACES, and the Office of the State Climatologist. This new drought impact program will be led by a drought outreach coordinator, to be housed at the AUWRC, that will train ACES personnel to report agricultural drought impacts in all of Alabama’s 67 counties. The program is intended to improve understanding of drought reporting, declaration, agency connections, and insurance claims as well as drought condition documentation for agriculture, forestry, and homeowner landscapes. This program will also instill proactive responses for stakeholders to minimize risk and mechanisms to document climatic conditions. To learn more about the AUWRC’s drought outreach and impact efforts visit the AUWRC’S Drought Outreach Page.