Don Wilhite

Don Wilhite

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Expertise & Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
  • Outreach

Title Climatologist
Address 811 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0968
Phone 402-472-4270
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail dwilhite2@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

Hi, I'm Don Wilhite, professor of applied climate science in the School of Natural Resources. I am the founding director of the International Drought Information Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center. 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 director role 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 recently served as chair of the International Organizing Committee for the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy. This meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2013. This international conference was organized by the World Meteorological Organization, the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. 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, present the keynote address and facilitate discussion. I am also engaged in international projects on drought mitigation and planning that are being sponsored by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and serve as a member of the steering committee for several European drought-related projects.

I am also chairing the Management and Advisory Committees of the newly formed Integrated Drought Management Program (IDMP) launched by the World Meteorological Organization and the Global Water Partnership in 2013 ( http://www.droughtmanagement.info/). I recently authored a handbook on Guidelines for National Drought Management Policy: A Template for Action, which is available on the IDMP website in all of the languages of the United Nations. This handbook is a product of the IDMP. I am also a member of the steering committee for several European drought-related projects.

On campus, I recently co-chaired the organizing committee for the annual symposium of the Center for Great Plains Studies, Drought in the Life, Cultures, and Landscapes of the Great Plains. This very successful symposium was held on campus in April 2014. Along with other colleagues in SNR, we are also preparing an Atlas of Nebraska which will be published in late 2016 or early 2017 by the University of Nebraska Press.

In September 2014, I was one of four authors that published a 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. For fall 2015, I have organized a series of eight roundtable events for these specific sectors. This series of 1-day roundtable events will result in the publication of a summary report in early 2016 which will hopefully lead to additional actions on climate change for Nebraska.

I have also co-organized a workshop in the Implications of a Changing Arctic on the Water Resources and Agriculture of the Central U.S. This workshop is sponsored by NOAA, USDA and the University of Nebraska and will be held on campus in November 2015. The workshop is associated with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council which began in April 2015.

In 2005, I edited Drought and Water Crises: Science, Technology and Management Issues, published by CRC Press. I am now editing a book series by the same name that focuses on the complex interrelationships between drought, climate change, and water management.

Please continue to examine the SNR website and the programs of the faculty in the Applied Climate Science mission area. The field of applied climate science offers many opportunities for prospective undergraduate and graduate students. We recently received approval for a new undergraduate major in Applied Climate Science. If you are interested in climate science, this new major presents an excellent opportunity for undergraduate majors to receive training in this important and growing field of study.

Selected Publications

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). In: Handbook of Engineering Hydrology Vol. 2: Modeling Climate Changes and Variability, Saeid Eslamian (ed.), Taylor and Francis Publishers (in press).
Knutson, C.L. and D.A. Wilhite. 2014. Opportunities for drought risk reduction in Asia (Chapter 21). In: Global Change and Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Perspective, Pak Sum Low (ed.). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England (in press).
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.
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, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2014.01.002.   On-Line
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, and M. Svoboda. 2013. Drought. Encyclopedia on Environmetrics. Abdel H. El-Shaarawi and Walter P. Piegorsch, editors. John Wiley and Sons (in press).
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) (www.earthmagazine.org).   On-Line
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, and M. Svoboda. 2012. Drought. Encyclopedia on Environmetrics. Abdel H. El-Shaarawi and Walter P. Piegorsch, editors. 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. In: R. Mendelsohn and A. Dinar (eds.), 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.
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.
Sivakumar, M.K.V., R. Pulwarty, D. Wilhite, and J. Ginnetti. Proposed Elements in a Compendium on National Drought Policy. Proceedings of an Expert Meeting on National Drought Policy. World Meteorological Organization.
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.
Wilhite, D.A. 2011. Essential Elements of National Drought Policy: Moving Towards Creating National Drought Policy Guidelines. In: Sivakumar, M.K.V., D. Wilhite, and J. Qu. 2011. 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. In: Sivakumar, M.K.V., D. Wilhite, and J. Qu. 2011. 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.
C.L. Knutson and D.A. Wilhite. 2009. 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.
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. (in press)
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)
Trnka, M., M. Dubrovsky, M. Svoboda, D. Semeradova, M. Hayes, Z. Zalud, and D. Wilhite, 2008. Developing a Regional Drought Climatology for the Czech Republic. International Journal of Climatology. [On-line] DOI: 10.1002/joc.1745
Wilhite, D.A. 2008. 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. (in press)
Wu, H., M.D. Svoboda, M.J. Hayes, D.A. Wilhite, and Wen, F., 2007. Appropriate Application of the Standardized Precipitation Index in Arid Locations and Dry Seasons. International Journal of Climatology, 27: 65-79.
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.
M. Dubrovsky, M.D. Svoboda, M. Trnka, M.J. Hayes, D.A. Wilhite, Z. Zalud, P. Hlavinka. 2006. Application of Relative Drought Indices in Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Drought Conditions in Czechia. Theoretical and Applied Climatology[On-line] DOI: 10.1007/s00704-008-0020-x.
Botterill, L. C. and D.A. Wilhite (eds). 2005. From Disaster Response to Risk Management: Australia's National Drought Policy. Springer. Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
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.A. Wilhite, M.J. Hayes, S.K. 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.
Tadesse, T., D.A. Wilhite, S.K. Harms, M.J. Hayes, and S. Goddard. 2004. Drought Monitoring Using Data Mining Techniques: A Case Study for Nebraska, U.S.A. Natural Hazards 33(1):137-159.
Wilhite, D.A. 2005 Drought and Water Crises: Science, Technology and Management Issues. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
Wu, H., M.J. Hayes, D.A. Wilhite, and M.D. Svoboda. 2005. The Effect of the Length of Record on the Standardized Precipitation Index Calculation. International Journal of Climatology, 25:505-520.
Wu, H. and D.A. Wilhite. 2004. An Operational Agricultural Drought Risk Assessment Model for Nebraska, USA. Natural Hazards 33(1):1-21.
Wu, H., K.G. Hubbard, and D.A. Wilhite. 2004. An Agricultural Drought Risk Assessment Model for Corn and Soybeans. International Journal of Climatology 24:723-741.
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.
Wilhelmi, O. and D.A. Wilhite. 2002. Assessing Vulnerability to Agricultural Drought: A Nebraska Case Study. Natural Hazards 25: 37-58.
Wilhelmi, O., K. Hubbard, and D.A. Wilhite. 2002. Spatial Representation of Agroclimatology in a Study of Agricultural Drought. International Journal of Climatology 22: 1399-1414.
Wilhite, D.A., 2002. Combating Drought through Preparedness. Natural Resources Forum 26: 275-285.
Wilhite, D.A. and D.A. Wood. 2001. Revisiting Drought Relief and Management Efforts in the West: Have We Learned from the Past? Journal of the West 40(3):18-25
Wilhite, D.A., 2001. Moving beyond Crisis Management, Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy 16(1):20-28. Special issue (invited).
Wilhite, D.A. 2000. Drought Response and Preparedness in the Context of Sub-Saharan Africa (invited). J. of Contingency Planning and Crisis Management 8(2):81-92. Special issue, H. Bruins (ed.).
Wilhite, D.A. (ed.). 2000. Drought: A Global Assessment (2 volumes, 51 chapters, 700 pages). Hazards and Disasters: A Series of Definitive Major Works (7 volume series), edited by A.Z. Keller. Routledge Publishers.
Wilhite, D.A., M.J. Hayes, C. Knutson, and K.H. Smith. 2000. Planning for Drought: Moving from Crisis to Risk Management. J. of Amer. Water Res. Assoc. 36:697-710.

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

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Applied Climate Science

Affiliations (index)

Professional Organizations

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

Notable Websites

Other Areas of Interest

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

SNR Areas of Expertise

Keyword Expert Level

10 - Top Expert
1 - Mild Interest

Climate Change

9

Drought

9

Select a keyword and see other SNR faculty and staff with this interest or expertise.

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)

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences


including specializations in
  • Climate Assessment & Impacts

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences


including specializations in
  • Climate Assessment & Impacts