Resources for Sustainability: Monitoring Drought Conditions in the United States

Resources for Sustainability: Monitoring Drought Conditions in the United States

As food supplies and many other industries are tied to soil conditions, monitoring methods and reports allow communities to gauge impacts on fluctuating drought variables.

Team Gemini has previously highlighted how drought presents immediate and future issues for many communities. 2015 was a dedicated Year of Soils, providing many insights into the value of this resource, frameworks for moving forward more sustainably, and a selection of resources as well.

In this Resources for Sustainability article, we provide highlights of the United States Drought Monitor. This includes selections of information and decision-making utilities that will assist stakeholders in examining past, current, and future developments within the nation’s drought conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, established in 1999, is a weekly map of drought conditions that is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The U.S. Drought Monitor website is hosted and maintained by the NDMC.

Countries around the world have sought to emulate the U.S. Drought Monitor. We stress that it isn’t a strictly quantitative product, and that the community of drought observers lends credibility to the state-of-the-art blend of science and subjectivity that goes into the map.

Weekly Comparisons

Compare two U.S. Drought Monitor weeks side by side.

Data Tables

View the U.S. Drought Monitor data in tabular format for a selected area.

USDM Map Comparison Slider

Displays the USDM maps from two selected dates, and allows the user to determine which is displayed by using a slider bar.


View and animated series of maps or download animated GIF files.

GIS Data

Get GIS data files for each week including shapefiles, kmz, wms and more.

Map Archive

View any map format for a selected week.

Data Download

Download U.S. Drought Monitor statistics.


Information about the GIS data and other U.S. Drought Monitor data file formats.

Change Maps

View a series of change maps for a selected week.

FSA Eligibility Tool

See which counties in the U.S. are eligible for drought relief payments from the Farm Service Agency.

Feel free to explore more topics on our Resources page, or contact us if you’d like to recommend others.

For a full listing of Team Gemini sustainability tools and resources, please visit our resources page at