Why predict climate hazards if we need to understand impacts? Putting humans back into the drought equation

M. Enenkel, M. E. Brown, J. V. Vogt, J. L. McCarty, A. Reid Bell, D. Guha-Sapir, W. Dorigo, K. Vasilaky, M. Svoboda, R. Bonifacio, M. Anderson, C. Funk, D. Osgood, C. Hain, P. Vinck

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Virtually all climate monitoring and forecasting efforts concentrate on hazards rather than on impacts, while the latter are a priority for planning emergency activities and for the evaluation of mitigation strategies. Effective disaster risk management strategies need to consider the prevailing “human terrain” to predict who is at risk and how communities will be affected. There has been little effort to align the spatiotemporal granularity of socioeconomic assessments with the granularity of weather or climate monitoring. The lack of a high-resolution socioeconomic baseline leaves methodical approaches like machine learning virtually untapped for pattern recognition of extreme climate impacts on livelihood conditions. While the request for “better” socioeconomic data is not new, we highlight the need to collect and analyze environmental and socioeconomic data together and discuss novel strategies for coordinated data collection via mobile technologies from a drought risk management perspective. A better temporal, spatial, and contextual understanding of socioeconomic impacts of extreme climate conditions will help to establish complex causal pathways and quantitative proof about climate-attributable livelihood impacts. Such considerations are particularly important in the context of the latest big data-driven initiatives, such as the World Bank’s Famine Action Mechanism (FAM).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1161-1176
    Number of pages16
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


    • Decision-support
    • Disaster resilience
    • Drought
    • Impact assessment
    • Mobile technologies

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Atmospheric Science


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