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Experts to Meet at George Mason University on National Drought Policy

July 11, 2011

Jul. 11, 2011

Media Contact: Tara Laskowski, 703-993-8815

 FAIRFAX, Va.- International experts are meeting at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on July 14-15 to prepare a Compendium on National Drought Policy. Twenty experts from national meteorological and hydrological services, climate and agricultural research institutes, universities and policy agencies are participating in this meeting, which has been organized by George Mason University’s College of Science (COS), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. National Drought Mitigation Center.

With reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that the world has been more drought-prone during the past 25 years and that climate projections indicate an increased frequency of droughts in the future, officials believe that a national drought policy is necessary.

“Drought is a serious problem in virtually all countries. Without a coordinated, national drought policy that includes elements such as effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision makers, effective impact assessment procedures, pro-active risk management measures, preparedness plans aimed at increasing the coping capacity, and effective emergency response programs directed at reducing the impacts of drought, nations will continue to respond to drought in a reactive, crisis management mode,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the WMO. “Our ability to lessen or mitigate the impacts associated with drought is contingent on putting in place comprehensive national drought policies. This expert meeting is an excellent first step in preparing a Compendium on National Drought Policy.”

Currently East Africa is enduring the worst drought in 60 years. Ten million people are at risk after the worst drought in decades hit large areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. A severe drought along the Yangtze River region in central China has left 315,000 people short of drinking water, and more than two million acres of farmland has been affected. This past October through May in Texas was the driest eight-month stretch the state has experienced in its modern history, and the impact on agriculture is approaching $1.5 billion.

Participants from Mason include Roger R. Stough, vice president for research and economic development, and College of Science faculty John J. Qu and Thomas Lovejoy.

“George Mason University recognizes the urgency of this international expert meeting and has a long-standing tradition of promoting science-based knowledge and actions to address climate-related issues,” said Stough. “We encourage institutions to proactively develop drought risk management plans and create ‘global centers of excellence’ in the fields of agricultural meteorology and climatology. This is just one of the global research and education initiatives Mason is undertaking to build depth and breadth in its efforts to internationalize the university’s approach and to broaden the participation of its faculty and students in global leadership projects.”

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About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University-Where Innovation Is Tradition.