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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute

Improving Drought Loss Accounting in SHELDUS®

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PIs:  Susan L. Cutter, Melanie Gall, Christopher Emrich


The economic impacts of drought are underreported in SHELDUS® data sources such as NCDC’s Storm Events Database. To rectify this, this project supports the utilization and ingestion of new data on drought losses from such diverse sources as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, PDDs, and emergency declarations, covering the period 1960-present. Post-processing of the new loss data will include the identification of duplicate loss records already present in SHELDUS®, georeferencing to the county scale, reformatting to meet SHELDUS® data format requirements, and cross-referencing with other data sources (e.g. US Drought Monitor, drought indices, newspapers) to identify exact begin and end dates of drought instances and verify loss estimates. The inclusion of new drought data will provide empirical insight into how much underreporting occurs related to the human and economic impacts from climate-sensitive hazards.



  • We have added 137,428 USDA records from 1989 to 2015.  Out of those, 31,164 (22.7%) are drought specific. The previous version of  SHELDUS® contains only 7, 774 drought records for 1989-2014 thus improving the coverage of drought hazard losses by a factor of four.  
  • Ability to query for crop losses specifically within the SHELDUS® database.