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Drought across US: situation, trend and extend

on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 02:38

This year 2012, the U.S. is dealing with the most extensive and prolonged drought conditions in more than 50 years.

Drought situation and trend in U.S. 

The New York Times report Drought and Deluge in the Lower 48 published in August 10, 2012 illustrates the time series of drought and deluge in US from 1900 to present using a data visualization created by  Mike Bostock and Shan Carter. 

Click on above image to see the interactive data visualization.
This data visualization shows the proportion of the contiguous U.S. in various stages of drought over 118 years of record-keeping. Rolling  mouse over individual months allows us to see what percentage of the lower 48 was in drought.
The New York Times also published the following data visualization titled Drought’s Footprint --created by Haeyoun Park and Kevin Quealy-- to support the article "Widespread Drought Is Likely yo Worsen
Small Multiples mapping of drought in US
Source: National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
This data visualization shows the spatial distribution of drought across the lower 48 states of US by years from 1896 to 1012.
More than half of the country was under moderate to extreme drought in June, the largest area of the contiguous United States affected by such dryness in nearly 60 years. Nearly 1,300 counties across 29 states have been declared federal disaster areas. Areas under moderate to extreme drought in June of each year are shown in orange below.
Clic on the above static image or  here to see the original chart.

Drought implication for agriculture and crops

The impact of drougth in agriculture and cost of food was also a theme for an article No Change in Forecast for Increase in Food Costs published at the New York Times. This article was supported also by the data visualization Drought Extends, Crops Wither create by Mike Bostock, Shan Carter and Hanna Fairfield using D3.js 

Click on above image to see the interactive data visualization.

This data visualization presents clearly the impact of drought on crop conditions, price recieved and yield metrics. It also maps the drought extend and crop location.  

Drought implications for human health

Public health professionals have known for some time about many of the health impacts of climate change. The occurrence of drought-related health impacts is challenging many communities, reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Environmental Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the American Public Health Association are sponsoring a four-part webinar series devoted to this theme. The first of them "When Every Drop Counts: The Public Health Implications of Drought" provided information about the preconditions leading up to the current drought situation, discuss the significant overarching public health issues related to drought, and highlight some of these impacts, focusing on several American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

A recap of this first webinar "Drought presents health implications, extreme weather more likely" was published by Public Health Newswire on Agust 27, 2012.  

"Martin Kalis, a public health advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, ticked off a wide range of health implications of drought: compromised quantity and quality of water, food and nutrition, and sanitation and hygiene; increase in disease incidence; mental and behavioral health concerns; and even recreational risks."

For more information on drought and health, see CDC’s When Every Drop Counts: Protecting Public Health During Drought Conditions — A Guide for Public Health Professionals.

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