A drought monitoring and forecasting system for sub-sahara african water resources and food security

Justin Sheffield, Eric F. Wood, Nathaniel Chaney, Kaiyu Guan, Sara Sadri, Xing Yuan, Luke Olang, Abou Amani, Abdou Ali, Siegfried Demuth, Laban Ogallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

360 Scopus citations


An experimental drought monitoring and forecast system for sub-Saharan Africa is described that is based on advanced land surface modeling driven by satellite and atmospheric model data. Key elements of the system are the provision of near-real-time evaluations of the terrestrial water cycle and an assessment of drought conditions. The predictive element takes downscaled ensemble dynamical climate forecasts and provides, when merged with the hydrological modeling, ensemble hydrological forecasts. A key element of the system is the provision of an intuitive and easy to use web interface to allow users to view the predictions and extract data for further analysis. The system shows encouraging performance at large scale when compared to other estimates of the land water cycle but notable errors when compared to local measurements. This is to be expected given the low density of monitoring networks, the high spatial and temporal variability of precipitation, and the heterogeneity of the land surface, as well as human influences, such as water and land management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-882
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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