Advancing Drought Understanding, Monitoring and Prediction

Low water in Don Pedro Reservoir, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada about 10 miles west of Yosemite National Park. This photo was taken on October 10, 2014, when nearly the entire state of California was still classified as being drought status D4—exceptional drought. photo by Andrew Williams.

In order to address gaps in the understanding, monitoring, and prediction of drought and improve our Nation’s ability to prepare for impacts, NOAA’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program — in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) — is funding 12 new three-year projects. These competitively-funded projects involve $4.2 million in grants and $1.8 million in other awards (for a total of $6.0 million).

Drought has and continues to cause serious social and economic impacts throughout the United States. According to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, a single drought event costs the U.S. about $9.4 billion on average1. From agricultural and drinking water supplies to infrastructure, health, ecosystems, and energy costs, drought negatively affects myriad sectors and people. Through the new National Drought Resilience Partnership, as well as NIDIS and its regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS), NOAA, working with interagency and academic colleagues, strives to improve the country’s capacity to manage drought-related risks and mitigate impacts by providing the best available information and tools. Building on the NIDIS example, an emerging international effort has begun to develop similar capabilities through a Global Drought Information System. In addition, NOAA’s Drought Task Force (DTF) has contributed significantly to the goals of the World Climate Research Program’s Climate Variability and Predictability and Global Energy and Water Cycle Exchanges programs.

The newly selected projects will build on the previous NOAA DTFs’ accomplishments during a third term of the Drought Task Force, which will be active from 2017 to 2020. Research topics will focus on improving understanding of sources of predictability, advancing the capability to model processes related to drought, developing new national monitoring and forecast products, and advancing operational drought monitoring and prediction systems.

The 12 new projects2 to be funded by the MAPP Program in 2017 are:

  • “An Objective Seasonal Drought Outlook for the Conterminous United States” — Lead Investigator: Dennis Lettenmaier (University of California, Los Angeles); Co-Investigator: Kingtse Mo (NOAA/CPC)
  • “Representing Human-Managed Influences through Thermal Product Data Assimilation in NLDAS: Impacts on the Terrestrial Water Budget and Drought Estimation” — Lead Investigator: Christa Peters-Lidard (NASA Goddard); Co-Investigators: David Mocko (NASA GSFC), Chris Hain (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center), Sujay Kumar (NASA GSFC), Youlong Xia (NOAA/EMC); Collaborators: Martha Anderson (USDA-ARS), Xiwu Zhan (NOAA/NESDIS)
  • “Collaborative Research: Toward Operational Predictions of Persistent Drought Driven by Multi-Year La Nina” — Lead Investigator: Yuko Okumura (University of Texas); Co-Investigators: Pedro DiNezio (University of Texas), Clara Deser (NCAR)
  • “Understanding Predictability of Flash Drought Over the United States” — Lead Investigator: Hailan Wang (Science Systems and Applications Inc.); Co-Investigator: Randal Koster (NASA Goddard)
  • “Understanding the Sources of U.S. Drought Predictability Using Seasonal Reforecasts of Sixty Years (1958-2017) Initialized with Multiple Land Analyses” — Lead Investigator: Bohua Huang (GMU/COLA); Co-Investigators: Chul-Su Shin (GMU/COLA), Paul A. Dirmeyer (GMU/COLA), Arun Kumar (NOAA/CPC)
  • “Exploring Process and Scale Dependencies on the Predictability and Variability of Drought in the United States” — Lead Investigator: Michael Barlage (NCAR/Research Applications Laboratory); Co-Investigators: Zong-Liang Yang (University of Texas at Austin), Fei Chen (NCAR), David Gochis (NCAR)
  • “Clarifying the Influence of the Multiscale Coupling Between Land Surface, Shallow and Deep Convection, and Large-Scale Circulation on the Predictability of Summer Drought over the U.S. Great Plains” — Lead Investigator: Rong Fu (University of Los-Angeles)
  • “Drought Onset and Termination Across North America: Mechanisms and Predictability” — Lead Investigator: Richard Seager (Columbia University); Co-Investigators: Mingfang Ting (Columbia University), Naomi Henderson (Columbia University), Dong Eun Lee (Columbia University)
  • “Biosphere-Atmosphere Regulations of Droughts Assessed Using Microwave and Solar-Induced Fluorescence Observations and Improved Plant Water Stress Representation” — Lead Investigator: Pierre Gentine (Columbia University); Co-Investigators: Alexandra Konings (Stanford University), Rongqian Yang (NOAA Environmental Modeling Center), Michael B. Ek (NOAA Environmental Modeling Center)
  • Developing an Automated Weekly Probabilistic and Categorical Drought Outlook Based on U.S. Drought Monitor and Ensemble Prediction — Lead Investigator: Lifeng Luo (Michigan State University); Co-Investigator: Youlong Xia (NOAA Environmental Modeling Center)
  • Developing National Soil Moisture Products to Improve Drought Monitoring — Lead Investigator: Trent Ford (Southern Illinois University); Co-Investigators: Steven Quiring (Ohio State University), Jessica Lucido (USGS)
  • “Improving the Drought Monitoring Capabilities of Land Surface Models by Integrating Bias-Corrected, Gridded Precipitation Estimates” — Lead Investigator: Brent McRoberts (Texas A&M University); Co-Investigators: Steven Quiring (Ohio State University), Brad Zavodsky (NASA SPoRT), John Nielsen-Gammon (Texas A&M University), Jonathan Case (ENSCO, Inc.)

2 At the time of publication, all awards may not have been accepted by recipient institutions

2018 Federal Funding Opportunities at a Glance

Important Dates/Deadlines

Letters of Intent

(LOIs) for all three competitions should be received through email by 5:00 p.m. ET on January 5, 2018

Full Applications

Full applications for the RISA competition must be received by 5:00pm on March 5, 2018.

Full applications for COCA/RISA and IRAP competitions must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on March 16, 2018.

Applications received after these dates and times will not be considered for funding.

Applications must be submitted via For applications submitted through, the basis for determining timeliness is the receipt notice issued by, which includes the date and time received.

For applicants without internet access,

please contact the CPO Grants Manager Diane Brown by mail at NOAA Climate Program Office (R/CP1), SSMC3, Room 12734, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 to obtain an application package. Please allow two weeks after receipt for a response. Hard copy submissions will be date and time stamped when they are received in the Climate Program Office.

Emailed or faxed copies of applications will not be accepted.

Competitions/Information Sheets

Competition 1: RISA – South Central Region

Contact: Meredith Muth
Applicants should consider tackling interconnections among multiple issues relevant to a region as opposed to an individual project addressing site-specific analysis. Climate will have implications for a myriad of interconnected management and planning decisions in the region. From their own research and interactions with decision makers, applicants should identify the most important climate-sensitive issues and management challenges for their proposed region. Special consideration should be given to those communities or stakeholders in the regions for whom there is currently less direct engagement with climate information science and service providers/entities. Applicants should also consider NOAA mission-oriented topics that could benefit from the work of a RISA who could integrate information from and work across multiple issues. RISA activities should address a number of the societal challenges identified in NOAA’s Next-Generation Strategic Plan (NGSP): i) climate impacts on water resources; ii) coasts and climate resilience; iii) sustainability of marine ecosystems; and iv) changes in the extremes of weather and climate. These efforts support NOAA’s vision to create and sustain enhanced resilience in ecosystems, communities, and economies, as outlined in the NGSP. We do not, however, anticipate that a proposed RISA would work solely in these areas.

Competition 2: COCA/RISA – Pilot on Coastal Climate Extension Competition

Contact: Adrienne Antoine / Lisa Vaughan
The COCA and RISA programs are collaborating on a two-year pilot project to support and expand coastal climate extension within the RISA network. For FY18, the COCA program is soliciting proposals for coastal climate extension specialists in up to two RISA coastal regions (Mid-Atlantic and South Central).

Competition 3: IRAP - Decision Support Research on Climate-Sensitive Health Risks

Contact: Lisa Vaughan
IRAP will consider proposals for interdisciplinary, applied science, stakeholder engagement, and capacity building that advances the integration of weather and climate research, assessments and services in practical risk management settings related to health risks that affect US interests at home and abroad. Health risks of particular interest include: temperature-related mortality and illness; infectious and vector borne diseases; flooding due to extreme events such as hurricanes; air quality impacts; water and food-borne illnesses; nutrition, and food and water distribution. Specifically, IRAP will consider proposals related to the following: 1) Decision Support Research and Application on Climate-Sensitive Health Risks in Transboundary Regions of the United States, in Partnership with the NOAA/CSI Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program; and 2) Developing and Using Subseasonal and Seasonal Global Health Risk Maps, Prediction Tools and Information to Anticipate and Manage Climate-Sensitive Health Risk.

Where to Submit

Application packages:
Visit and
click on Apply for Grants. You may also directly view the listing here.

Federal Funding Opportunity Number:

Applicants without Internet access:
Please send mail to:
Diane Brown
CPO Grants Manager
NOAA Climate Program Office (R/CP1), SSMC3, Room 12734
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please allow two weeks after receipt for a response.

For Federal Investigators

Federal lead investigators who wish to apply to this Announcement of Opportunity must prepare a proposal according to the FFO guidelines and submit the proposal to the program manager directly, instead of to Federal co-investigators must submit a proposal identical to the proposal lead's but with personalized budget information.

Letters of Intent for Federal investigators should be received by the Competition Manager by 5:00 p.m. ET on January 5, 2018 for all competitions.

Full applications for the RISA competition must be received by 5:00pm on March 2, 2018. Full applications for COCA/RISA and IRAP competitions must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on March 13, 2018.


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.


Climate Program Office
1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910