Droughts are prolonged periods of below normal precipitation often having significant negative impacts on agriculture and the State’s economy. There is no single variable that can be used to directly quantify drought so scientists use measures such as the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), which incorporates both precipitation and temperature while also considering data from previous months. Several major droughts have occurred in Indiana since climate and streamflow monitoring began in the early 1900’s, but the severity, location, and duration have varied significantly (Paulson et al., 1991). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 2012 drought impacted 80% of U.S. farmland making it the most widespread drought since the 1950’s (USDA, 2013).

Meteorological monitoring sites are key components for understanding historic and current drought conditions in Indiana. The National Climate Data Center lists approximately 150 sites in Indiana where precipitation is officially measured. Additional rain gauges are warranted because precipitation can vary greatly over short distances, especially during summer months when drought impacts are most severe. It is essential to monitor other water-budget parameters including: streamflow, soil moisture, lake levels, and groundwater elevations so that water planning can consider the impacts that droughts of certain magnitudes have on these water resources.

Water Resource Professionals in Indiana Focusing on Drought Research and Monitoring

  • Dev Niyogi (Purdue University)
  • Sam Lashley (National Weather Service)
  • Jill Coleman (Ball State University)
  • Shawn Naylor (Indiana Geological and Water Survey)
  • Darren Ficklin (Indiana University)

Related Resources

Center for Geospatial Data Analysis and Indiana Geological Survey, 2014, The Indiana Water Balance Network, accessed February 4, 2014 at http://igs.indiana.edu/CGDA/waterBalanceNetwork.cfm.

Indiana Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, 2014, home page accessed April 4, 2014 at http://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=in.

Indiana Water Shortage Task Force, 2009, Indiana Water Shortage Task Force Final Report, accessed April 16, 2014 at http://www.in.gov/dnr/water/files/WSTF_Final_Report.pdf.

NOAA / The National Weather Service, 2014, United States Drought Information, accessed February 4, 2014 at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Drought/.

Paulson, R.W., Chase, E.B., Roberts, R.S., and Moody, D.W., 1991, National water summary 1988-1980: hydrologic events and floods and droughts, U.S. Geological Survey, Water Supply Paper 2375, 591 p., accessed February 4, 2014 at 2014 at http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wsp2375.

Purdue University, 2014, The Indiana State Climate Office, accessed February 4, 2014 at http://iclimate.org/index.asp.

Purdue University, 2014, Drought Research Initiative Network, accessed April 16, 2014 at https://drinet.hubzero.org/.

University of Nebraska, 2014, National Drought Mitigation Center, accessed April 4, 2014 at http://drought.unl.edu/.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2013, U.S. Drought 2012: Farm and Food Impacts, accessed February 4, 2014 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-news/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx#.UvFjCLQq7qg.

This page written and maintained by the Indiana State Climate Team.