, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 37-58

Assessing Vulnerability to Agricultural Drought: A Nebraska Case Study

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Abstract

Recent drought events in the United States and the magnitude of drought losses indicate the continuing vulnerability of the country to drought. Until recently, drought management in many states, including Nebraska, has been largely response oriented with little or no attention to mitigation and preparedness. In 1998, Nebraska began to revise its drought plan in order to place more emphasis on mitigation. One of the main aspects of drought mitigation and planning is the assessment of who and what is vulnerable and why. This paper presents a method for spatial, Geographic Information Systems-based assessment of agricultural drought vulnerability in Nebraska. It was hypothesized that the key biophysical and social factors that define agricultural drought vulnerability were climate, soils, land use, and access to irrigation. The framework for derivation of an agricultural drought vulnerability map was created through development of a numerical weighting scheme to evaluate the drought potential of the classes within each factor. The results indicate that the most vulnerable areas to agricultural drought were non-irrigatedcropland and rangeland on sandy soils, located in areas with a very high probability of seasonal crop moisture deficiency. The identification of drought vulnerability is an essential step in addressing the issue of drought vulnerability in the state and can lead to mitigation-oriented drought management.