Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and others, are rolling out a new worldwide satellite-based drought severity index. Relying on data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission, called GRACE, the index adds groundwater storage to drought assessments, augmenting commonly used tools most often based on the amount of precipitation. Researchers announcing the index say it will “provide for accurate and continuous drought monitoring” worldwide.
The data set for the drought severity index covers 2002 to 2014, but will be extended with the current mission and the GRACE follow-up mission scheduled to be launched in early 2018. Researchers say the index will be very reliable because it’s based solely on satellite gravity observations, which enables it to provide globally consistent drought monitoring, even in places where ground readings are difficult to obtain.
You can find the data online by searching for the UCI drought index. (http://drought.eng.uci.edu/)