92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 8:30 AM
Using Satellite Data and Global Weather Data Sets to Estimate Operational ET Anomalies for Drought and Crop Performance Monitoring [INVITED]
Room 352 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Gabriel B. Senay, USGS EROS, sioux falls, SD; and J. Verdin, R. singh, and S. Bohms

Operational estimation of actual evapotranspiration (ETa) is important for early warning applications in drought and crop performance monitoring. From basic ET process understanding, ETa can be estimated using either water balance or energy balance principles depending on availability of data and objective of study. For drought and crop performance monitoring, changes of ET or anomalies from an “average” condition are more desired since they are easier to interpret and less prone to assumption and model bias errors than absolute magnitudes. In this study, we present an application of ET anomalies at monthly and seasonal times scales using both water balance and energy balance principles. The ET anomaly products (based on available 2000-2010 datasets) are operational (posted regularly at a website) for the conterminous US and Africa. The water balance model is the VegET model that is parameterized using a blend of station and satellite/radar data sets using a simple bucket principle and phenology-based water use coefficients. The energy balance model uses the Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEB) model with the primary input of the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Land Surface Temperature and global weather data sets from the global data assimilation system (GDAS). Monthly and seasonal anomalies demonstrate the current year's (2011) severe drought in south central US (New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) and also in east African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The study presents an operational implementation of simplified ET modeling approaches for monitoring drought and crop performance using readily available satellite and model assimilated global weather data sets. The use of two different modeling approaches and independent data sets is desired for early warning applications. The water balance ET anomaly highlights ET changes in rainfed systems without taking into account water movements in a watershed. On the contrary, the energy balance ET takes into account irrigation and potential water redistribution within and between watersheds in addition to rainfall processes. Although such anomaly-based modeling approaches meet the requirements for early warning purposes, more field calibration and validation may be required before using both models as an absolute ET estimation tool for water balance estimation. Generally, results from both models are examined on the principle of a convergence of evidence to help build consensus among various stakeholders that consist of water resources managers, market analysts, and food aid distributors in the case of the application in food insecure regions of Africa. The primary user of the early warning product over Africa is the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). On the other hand, calibrated and validated watershed-scale ET products are being evaluated for the WaterSMART program of the Department of the Interior under which the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) is conducting a nationwide study on Water Availability and Water Use.

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