Date of Award

Fall 12-11-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Chair

Dr. Bandana Kar

Committee Chair Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Andy Reese

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Grant Harley

Committee Member 3 Department

Geography and Geology

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to determine significant bio-physical (physical and environmental) and social variables that can be integrated into a drought index to predict areas susceptible to drought. Severe drought events are capable of causing millions of dollars in damage. The 1988 drought caused the United States approximately $40 billion in damage. Drought forecasting, modeling, and detection have, therefore, become imperative to understand the social, economic and environmental impacts of droughts, and also to explore how these impacts play a role in the occurrence of a drought. A number of drought indices widely used in the U.S. rely on physical and meteorological factors to describe and predict drought conditions. Though social factors, especially, urbanization seem to contribute to the occurrence and severity of a drought they are rarely used in drought prediction and monitoring. In this research, the following research questions were answered to aid with drought prediction by incorporating physical and social variables: (1) Which physical parameters are significant in drought forecasting? (2) Can a social variable be used as a predictor for drought? If so, what impact does it have on drought severity?

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