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UniSQ CACS Drought Monitor

This AgReFed Project is contributed by the University of Southern Queensland.

Project summary

The Australian Drought Monitor is a spatial information service that provides a snapshot of drought conditions throughout Australia using a multi-index approach inspired by the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). It is based on four climate variables – rainfall, evapotranspiration, vegetation (NDVI), and soil moisture. The Australian Drought Monitor is served to the public via maps available on the Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) website at

Currently, a researcher who is interested in accessing data created by the Drought Monitor project must request a download from the Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) team on an ad hoc basis. Applying the FAIR principles to the Drought Monitor would improve the accessibility of the data, provide valuable exposure of the product to other organisations, and support further innovation. Additionally, the activities undertaken will be recorded and used as the basis for a guide for future researchers who are attempting to apply the FAIR principles to similar datasets.

Ideal Experience

The Drought Monitor will be discoverable on the Research Data Australia (RDA) catalogue, which will direct users to the NACP website. There, users and agricultural researchers will be able to view the Drought Monitor in an interactive online map viewer that allows them to search by address and zoom into a detailed view of the geographical region most relevant to them. The original interface would remain available as an alternative for users with bandwidth limitations. The data will be licensed and available for accessing from the AgReFed Platform on ARDC JupyterHub service with options to select a geographical or temporal subset of the data for visualisation and analysis. Applications of the dataset for agricultural research are demonstrated by an advanced user case. The steps for accessing the dataset would be documented and clearly displayed on the website.





Project Implementation

Project Plan

This project will be an extension to the capabilities of the NACP website. Agricultural researchers can access the dataset from the AgReFed Platform. The Platform will also provide the ability to subset and visualise the data and ideas for further research applications. Metadata will be created and used to create a listing for the dataset on RDA.


  • Data server with management capability and access capability to monthly updated drought monitor data
  • Connecting the data sever to AgReFed Platform
  • Documentation of the development and FAIR process
  • Listing for the Drought Monitor on the RDA registry
  • User case 1:

Agricultural researchers, policy makers or farm managers can access the drought status (condition) at their desired locations with spatial and temporal resolution being compatible with those of the drought monitor.

  • User case 2:

They can make better decisions with the drought status information. Economic values of such drought status information can also be assessed.


Source Code

The Drought Monitor Notebooks are available as open source in Github.



The Drought Monitor metadata record is published with RDA:


The Drought Monitor dataset is accessible from:

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