EXPLORATION 1

Palmer Drought Severity Index

The NOAA National Climatic Data Center is a resource that provides public access to climate and historical weather data and information. In this exploration you will be guided through the website to learn about the resources for analyzing drought severity.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) “attempts to measure the duration and intensity of the long-term drought-inducing circulation patterns.” The product of the PDSI is a map that illustrates areas that are experiencing drought conditions on a monthly basis. In this exploration, you will create an animated PDSI map.

Drought Conditions in 2011

Follow the directions and answer the questions following the animation you created.

pdsi tool

You can use the blue buttons to Stop, Play or make the animation Slower.

pdsi tool

Answer the following questions using the animation you created.

  1. What states experienced the worst drought conditions (colored purple for extreme drought and red for severe drought) in 2011?
  2. In what months were drought conditions the worst?
  3. Were areas of the U. S. experiencing opposite conditions at that same time? If so, generally, where are those areas of the U. S.?  

Drought Conditions in 2013

Follow the directions and answer the questions following the animation you created.

  • Go to http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/drought/historical-palmers.php
  • Under Index, select Palmer Drought Severity Index. Under Month(s), select All Months by clicking on January, holding the control key and then clicking on December. Choose 2013 for both the Start Year and the End Year.
  • You can use the blue buttons to Stop, Play or make the animation Slower.

Answer the following questions using the animation you created.

  1. Generally, what part of the U. S. experienced the worst drought conditions (purple color for extreme drought and red for severe drought) in 2013?
  2. In what month were drought conditions the worst?

Drought Conditions in 2014

Follow the directions and answer the questions following the animation you created.

  • Go to http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/drought/historical-palmers.php
  • Under Index, select Palmer Drought Severity Index. Under Month(s), select All Months by clicking on January, holding the control key and then clicking on December. Choose 2014 for both the Start Year and the End Year.
  • You can use the blue buttons to Stop, Play or make the animation Slower.

Answer the following questions using the animation you created.

  1. Generally, which states experienced the worst drought conditions (colored purple for extreme drought and red for severe drought) in 2014?
  2. In what month were drought conditions the worst?