Don Wilhite

Don Wilhite

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  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Interests
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  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
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Title Climatologist and Drought Management Specialist
Address 703 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0987
Phone 402-472-4270
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail dwilhite2@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

Hi, I'm Don Wilhite, professor emeritus of Applied Climate Science and director emeritus in the School of Natural Resources. I am the founding director of the International Drought Information Center in 1989 and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) in 1995. I served as director of the NDMC from 1995 until 2007, when I was appointed director of the School of Natural Resources. On August 1, 2012, I stepped down from the SNR's director's position to rejoin the faculty. I have been a faculty member at UNL since 1977. My principal areas of interest include drought monitoring, preparedness, mitigation and policy; climate change; climate impact assessment, and the development of climate-based decision support tools.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many federal and state agencies on climate and drought-related issues. I have also worked in many foreign countries and with numerous international organizations, including several agencies of the United Nations. Most of this work has been associated with the development and implementation of integrated drought management programs and risk-based drought preparedness strategies and policies.

I served as chair of the International Organizing Committee for the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2013. The principal sponsors of this international conference were the World Meteorological Organization, the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. The goal of this conference was to promote the adoption of national drought management policies in drought-prone countries. Eighty-seven countries and over 400 persons participated in this meeting. Several follow-on activities related to this meeting have been conducted, including six regional capacity building workshops on drought management and policy. These regional workshops have been held in Bucharest, Romania (July 2013) for Eastern European countries; Fortaleza, Brazil (December 2013) for Latin America and the Caribbean; Hanoi, Vietnam (May 2014) for Asia; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014) for Eastern and Southern Africa; Cairo, Egypt (November 2014) for the Mid-East and North Africa; and Accra, Ghana (May 2015) for Central and West Africa. My role in each of these workshops was to assist with the organization of the workshop, present the keynote address and facilitate discussion.

I also serve as chair the Management and Advisory Committees of the Integrated Drought Management Program (IDMP) launched by the World Meteorological Organization and the Global Water Partnership in 2013 (http://www.droughtmanagement.info/). In 2014, I authored a handbook, Guidelines for National Drought Management Policy: A Template for Action, for the IDMP. This publication is available on the IDMP website in all of the languages of the United Nations.

In September 2014, I was one of four authors that produced a university report, Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska. This report has attracted a great deal of attention across the state and has resulted in numerous initiatives on- and off-campus to identify adaptation and mitigation actions for specific sectors. In the fall 2015, I organized a series of eight sector-based roundtables with the goal of identifying adaptation and mitigation actions available within each sector. This series of 1-day roundtable events resulted in the publication of a summary report in early 2016 (http://go.unl.edu/climatechange) that will hopefully lead to additional actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation for Nebraska. Several legislative bills and resolutions were introduced in the Nebraska Legislature in 2016 and 2017 that were focused on moving the state towards development of a climate action plan.

I also co-organized a workshop on the Implications of a Changing Arctic on the Water Resources and Agriculture of the Central U.S. in November 2015. This workshop was sponsored by NOAA, USDA and the University of Nebraska. The workshop is associated with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council which began in April 2015. This report is available at http://go.unl.edu/acrticclimateworkshop

I have recently completed the 2nd edition of a book, Drought and Water Crises: Integrating Science, Management and Policy. The 1st edition of the book was published in 2005. My co-editor for the 2nd edition is Roger Pulwarty, Senior Climate Scientist at NOAA. This book will be published by CRC Press in late 2017.

I also completed an Atlas of Nebraska with my co-editors, Clark Archer, David Wishart, Rick Edwards, Les Howard and Fred Shelley. This comprehensive atlas will be published by the University of Nebraska Press in October 2017 in conjunction with Nebraska's Sesquicentennial.

Please continue to examine the SNR website and all of the programs of the faculty in the School of Natural Resources. The field of applied climate science offers many opportunities for prospective undergraduate and graduate students. If you are interested in applied climate science, I encourage you to explore training opportunities with this program through direct contact with ACS faculty.

Selected Publications

Nam, W.H, M.J. Hayes, M.D. Svoboda, T. Tadesse, and D.A. Wilhite, 2015. Drought hazard assessment in the context of climate change for South Korea, Agricultural Water Management, 160:106-117; Online
Fuchs, B.A., M.D. Svoboda, D.A. Wilhite, and M.J. Hayes. 2014. Drought Indices for Drought Risk Assessment in a Changing Climate (Chapter 43). Handbook of Engineering Hydrology Vol. 2: Modeling Climate Changes and Variability, Saeid Eslamian
Knutson, C.L. and D.A. Wilhite. 2014. Opportunities for drought risk reduction in Asia (Chapter 21). Global Change and Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Perspective, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England
M.V.K. Sivakumar, R. Stefanski, M. Bazza, S. Zelaya, D. Wilhite, and A. Rocha Magalhaes. 2014. High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy: Summary and Major Outcomes. Weather and Climate Extremes (Special Issue, March 2014).
Wilhite, D.A. 2014. Guidelines for the Development of National Drought Policies and Preparedness Plans. Special report from the Global Water Partnership and the World Meteorological Organization, Integrated Drought Management Program. Geneva, Switzerland and Stockholm, Sweden.
Wilhite, D.A. 2014. Changing the paradigm for drought management: Can we break the Hydro-illogical Cycle? Water Resources Impact (Invited essay, Special Issue, AWRA at 50: The Future for Water Resources in the United States. January. American Water Resources Association. Online
Wilhite, D.A., M.V.K. Sivakumar, R. Pulwarty. 2014. Managing Drought Risk in a Changing Climate: The Role of National Drought Policy. Weather and Climate Extremes. 3: 4-13. Online
M.V.K. Sivakumar, D.A. Wilhite, R.S. Pulwarty and R. Stefanski. 2013. The Need for National Drought Policies: Summary of the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP). Bulletin of the Amer. Meteorol. Soc. (Published online).
Sivakumar, M.K.V., R. Stefanski, and D.A. Wilhite. 2012. Proceedings of an International Workshop on Drought Indices and Early Warning Systems (University of Nebraska, December 2009). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Wilhite, D. 2012. Defining Drought: The Challenges for Early Warning Systems. In: Proceedings of an International Workshop on Drought Indices and Early Warning Systems (University of Nebraska, December 2009). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Wilhite, D.A. 2012. Breaking the Hydro-Illogical Cycle: Changing the Paradigm for Drought Management (Comment), EARTH Magazine, July (pp. 71-72) Online
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, and M. Svoboda. 2012. Drought. Encyclopedia on Environmetrics. John Wiley and Sons (in press).
Hayes, M., D. Wilhite, M. Svoboda, and M. Trnka. 2011. Investigating the Connections between Climate Change, Drought, and Agricultural Production. Handbook on climate Change and Agriculture. Edward Eigar Publishing Ltd.
Sivakumar, M.K.V., D. Wilhite, and J. Qu. 2011. Proceedings of an Expert Meeting on a Compendium for National Drought Policy (George Mason University, July 2011). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Online
Sivakumar, M.K.V., R. Motha, D. Wilhite, and D. Wood. 2011. Proceedings of an Expert Meeting on Agricultural Drought Indices (Murcia, Spain, June, 2010), World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Online
Sivakumar, M.K.V., R. Pulwarty, D. Wilhite, and J. Ginnetti. 2011. Proposed Elements in a Compendium on National Drought Policy. Proceedings of an Expert Meeting on National Drought Policy. World Meteorological Organization. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2011. Breaking the Hydro-Illogical Cycle: Progress or Status Quo for Drought Management in the United States. European Water 34:3-16. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2011. Essential Elements of National Drought Policy: Moving Towards Creating National Drought Policy Guidelines. Proceeding of an Expert Meeting on a Compendium on National Drought Policy (George Mason University, July 2011). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Wilhite, D.A. 2011. National Drought Policies: Addresses Impacts and Societal Vulnerability. Proceeding of an Expert Meeting on a Compendium on National Drought Policy (George Mason University, July 2011). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Wilhite, D.A. 2011. Quantification of Agricultural Drought for Effective Drought Mitigation and Preparedness: Key Issues and Challenges. In: Sivakumar, M.K.V., R. Motha, D. Wilhite, and D. Wood. 2011. Proceedings of an Expert Meeting on Agricultural Drought Indices (Murcia, Spain, June, 2010). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Online
Iglesias, A., A. Cancelliere, F. Cubillo, L. Garrote, and D. Wilhite. 2009. Coping with Drought Risk in Agriculture and Water Supply Systems: Drought Management and Policy Development in the Mediterranean. Land Degradation & Development. 23: 201-202. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2009. The Role of Monitoring as a Component of Preparedness Planning: Delivery of Information and Decision Support Tools. In: Iglesias, A., A. Cancelliere, F. Cubillo, L. Garrote, and D. Wilhite, eds. Coping with Drought Risk in Agriculture and Water Supply Systems: Drought Management and Policy Development in the Mediterranean. Springer Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
C.L. Knutson and D.A. Wilhite. 2008. New Developments and Opportunities for Drought Risk Reduction in Asia. In: P.K. Low (ed.), Global Change and Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Perspectives. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England. (in press)
Dubrovsky, M., M. D. Svoboda, M. Trnka, M. J. Hayes, D. A. Wilhite, Z. Zalud, and P. Hlavinka. (2008). Application of relative drought indices in assessing climate change impacts on drought conditions in Czechia. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 96. 155-171. Online
Hunt, E.D., K.G. Hubbard, D.A. Wilhite, T.J. Arkebauer, and A.L. Dutcher. 2008. The development and evaluation of a soil moisture index. Int. J. Climatol. Wiley InterScience. DOI: 10.1002/joc.1749. Online
Knutson, C.L., S. Jones, M.E. Sittler, M. Higgins, M.D. Svoboda, D.R. Kluck, and D.A. Wilhite (2008) Development of a Low Flow Early Warning System for the NOAA National Weather Service, USA, Stream Ecology and Low Flows, Special Issue of the International Journal of Ecological Economics and Statistics, Vol. 12(F08), pp.44-57
Trnka, M., M. Dubrovsky, M. D. Svoboda, D. Semeradova, M. J. Hayes, Z. Zalud, and D. A. Wilhite. 2008. Developing a regional drought climatology for the Czech Republic. International Journal of Climatology. DOI: 10.1002/joc.1745. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2008. The Role of Monitoring as a Component of Preparedness Planning: Delivery of Information and Decision Support Tools. Coping with Drought Risk in Agriculture and Water Supply Systems: Drought Management and Policy Development in the Mediterranean. Springer Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. (in press)
Woudenberg, D. L., D. A. Wilhite, and M. J. Hayes. 2008. Perception of drought hazard and its sociological impacts in South-Central Nebraska. Great Plains Research, 18(1): 93-102. Online
Wilhite, D. A., M. D. Svoboda, and M. J. Hayes. 2007. Understanding the complex impacts of drought: a key to enhancing drought mitigation and preparedness. Journal of Water Resources Management, 21(5): 763-774. Online
Wu, H., M. D. Svoboda, M. J. Hayes, D. A. Wilhite, and F. Wen. 2007. Appropriate application of the Standardized Precipitation Index in arid locations and dry seasons. International Journal of Climatology, 27: 65-79. Online
Hu, Q., L.M. PytlikZillig, G.D. Lynne, K.G. Hubbard, W.J. Waltman, M.J. Hayes, A.J. Tomkins, and D.A. Wilhite. 2006. Improving farmers' forecast use from understanding their beliefs, social norms, and perceived obstacles. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol.
Tadesse, T., D.A. Wilhite, M.J. Hayes, J.F. Brown, and C.L. Knutson, 2006. Modern drought monitoring tool for decision support system. Encyclopedia of Digital Government, 3, 1212 -1218.
Cooter, E., B. Eder, C. Rosenzweig, B. Lynn, R. Goldberg, C. Knutson, M. Hayes, D. Wilhite, J. DeCarolis, and T. Barnett. 2005. Effects of climate change on weather and water. Environmental Management. Special issue on Climate Change and Air Quality. October. pp. 32-35.
Tadesse, T., D. Wilhite, M. Hayes, S. Harms, and S. Goddard. 2005. Discovering associations between climatic and oceanic parameters to monitor drought in Nebraska using data-mining techniques. Journal of Climate, 18(10): 1541-1550. Online
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, and C.L. Knutson (2005) Drought Preparedness Planning: Building Institutional Capacity. D.A. Wilhite (ed.), Drought and Water Crises: Science, Technology, and Management Issues. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL
Wu, H., M. Hayes, D. Wilhite, and M. Svoboda. 2005. The effect of the length of record on the Standardized Precipitation Index calculation. International Journal of Climatology, 25: 505-520. Online
Tadesse, T., Wilhite, D.A., Harms, S.K., Hayes, M.J., and Goddard, S., 2004, Drought Monitoring Using Data Mining Techniques: A Case Study for Nebraska, USA. Natural Hazards. 33: 137-159. Online
Wu, H. and Wilhite, D.A., 2004, An Operational Agricultural Drought Risk Assessment Model for Nebraska, USA. Natural Hazards. 33: 1-21. Online
Wu, H., Hubbard, K.G., Wilhite, D.A. 2004. An Agricultural Drought Risk-Assessment Model for Corn & Soybeans. International Journal of Climatology 24: 723–741. Online
Wilhite, D.A., 2003. Drought Policy and Preparedness: International Experiences and Future Directions, in Drought: People, Policy, and Place (L. Botterill and M. Fisher, eds.), Melbourne, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.
Tadesse, T., M. J. Hayes, D. A. Wilhite, and S.K. Harms 2002. Data mining and knowledge discovery of drought in Nebraska. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Biometeorology and Aerobiology joint with 16th International Congress on Biometeorology, Oct./Nov. 2002, Kansas City, MO Online
Wilhelmi, O. and D.A. Wilhite. 2002. Assessing Vulnerability to Agricultural Drought: A Nebraska Case Study. Natural Hazards 25: 37-58. Online
Wilhite, D.A., 2002. Combating Drought through Preparedness. Natural Resources Forum 26: 275-285. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2001. Moving beyond crisis management. Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy. 16(1):21-28 (Journal Series Number:13239) Online
Donald A. Wilhite, M.V.K. Sivakumar and Deborah A. Wood (Eds.). 2000. Early Warning Systems for Drought Preparedness and Drought Management. Proceedings of an Expert Group Meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal, 5-7 September 2000. Geneva, Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization. Online
Published in Drought and Drought Mitigation in Europe, edited by Jürgen V. Vogt and Francesca Somma, pp. 119–131 (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000). Online
Wilhite D.A., 2000. Drought preparedness and response in the context of sub-Saharan Africa (invited). Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management. 8(2):81-92 (Journal Series Number:12939). Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought as a natural hazard: Concepts and definitions. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought early warning systems in the context of drought preparedness and mitigation. Early Warning Systems for Drought Preparedness and Management. University of Nebraska. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought planning: A methodology. Report on the Status of Drought Preparedness and Mitigation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought preparedness status, constraints, and future needs: A synthesis. Report on the Status of Drought Preparedness and Mitigation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Universoty of Nebraska.
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought: A conceptual overview. Drought: A Global Assessment. University of Nebraska.
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought: A global assessment. Routledge Publishers, London. 800 pp.
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Preparing for Drought: A methodology. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Paper 72. Chapter 35. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Reducing societal vulnerability to drought: Future challenges. (2000). Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Paper 75. Chapter 51. Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Responding to drought: Common threads from the past, visions for the future. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 33: 951–959 Online
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. State actions to mitigate drought: Lessons learned. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 33: 961–968 Online
Wilhite, D.A. and O. Vanyarkho 2000. Drought: Pervasive impacts of a creeping phenomenon. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Paper 71. Online
Wilhite, D.A., M. Hayes, and M. Svoboda 2000. Monitoring drought using the standardized precipitation index. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Paper 70. chapter 12. Online
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, and M.D. Svoboda 2000. Drought monitoring and assessment: Status and trends in the United States. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty Publications. Paper 76. Online
Wilhite D.A. 1985. The Enigma of Drought: Definition, Assessment, and Response. Sixth Conference in Hydrometeorology, Oct/Nov, Indianapolis, IN. 174-176.

Educational Background

  • BS - Central Missouri State University, Geography (1967)
  • MS - Arizonia State University, Geography (1969)
  • PhD - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Geography, Climate and Water Resources (1975)

Awards

  • 2016 – Environmental Leadership Award awarded by Lincoln-Lancaster County (Nebraska) 
  • 1/26/2014 – Award of Merit awarded by Nebraska Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta 
  • Fellow, Daugherty Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska awarded by Daugherty Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska 
  • – Fellow, American Meteorological Society awarded by American Meteorological Society's Executive Council 

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Applied Climate and Spatial Science

Affiliations (index)

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysical Union
    • Member 
  • American Meteorological Society
    • Member 
  • American Water Resources Association
    • Member 

Notable Websites

Areas of Interest

  • Drought, Mitigation
  • Planning, and Policy
  • Climate Assessment and Impacts
  • Climate Change
  • Human dimensions of natural resources

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Implications of Climatic Changes in the Arctic on Agriculture and Water Management in the Great Plains and Midwest Regions of the U.S.: An Exploratory Workshop
Starting Date 6/1/2015
Principal Investigators
Don Wilhite
Ending Date 5/31/2016
Funding Level $9,600.00
Funding Source Agricultural Research Division Strategic Funds

 
Grant Title University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Liaison for Coordination of Water Quality Education Programming in Nebraska
Starting Date 4/1/2012
Principal Investigators
Elbert Dickey
Co-PIs
Don Wilhite
Ending Date 9/30/2012
Funding Level $27,750.00
Funding Source Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality

 

Graduate Program(s)