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Annual Progress Report of the European and Global Drought Observatories

Abstract: 

With this report, the reader finds an overview of the changes, upgrades and new features created in the European Drought Observatory (EDO) and the Global Drought Observatory (GDO) and made in 2019. The year proved relatively quiet concerning drought events in Europe; the subcontinent was only affected in the Baltics, although fires broke out vigorously in the Balkans, Spain and Russia. Thanks to the recent juvenile concern with regard to the heating up of the climate, drought events and forest fires drew more public-attention. Our reaction upon this concern in the Global Drought Observatory is the development of a new group of data, which we call Drought Mitigation. With more people genuinely concerned in the effect of our alternation of the properties of the lower atmosphere, we take up the task to provide guidelines for repair and adaptation. Higher temperatures imply that air depletes more vapour from vegetation and soil, leading to more intense droughts or floods. Consient management of our fresh water resources and massive tree planting are measures that can have significant impact on the effects of a Drought, Forest Fires or also Flood events. Therefore, we started with including the results of the often-cited research result regarding reforestation potential of the Crowther Lab as a layer in the Global Drought Observatory. We completed our work with enriching data describing dams with data regarding the location, name and quantitative characteristics of dams as an additional layer. We worked on the integration of the GRACE Dataset, which gives us an actualized satellite born, insight in the depletion of groundwater resources. We created a new index, alerting drought impacts on protected wetlands. Droughts events in these areas might affect rare species living in these protected wetlands, thus creating a link to the biodiversity crisis. The drought alerting mechanism we developed thus far were human centred. With this new index and with the Crowther Lab reforestation inventory we hope to correct this one species view of the past, learning to share our territory with all species, also during hard times of a drought disaster. With these additions, we hope that EDO and GDO will give you a better overview of the impacts of drought events, not only for our economy but also for our shared ecosystems and their services to us. Finally note that we engage in a project to export EDO and GDO knowledge and software to African regional partners. Thus enabling them to set up drought observatories in Africa just as if we did for South- and Central America. Such a collaboration works both ways, we understand better the impacts of Drought events in their region and we learn from their practical skills with regard to make things work in a challenging environment, whilst we can give them working drought observatory software, practical manners to, almost, fully automate the filling and updating of the systems combined with our specific expertise on droughts build up in the last 12 years.