J3.2 Assessing the evolution of soil moisture and vegetation conditions during the 2012 United States flash drought

Monday, 11 January 2016: 1:45 PM
Room 240/241 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Jason A. Otkin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; and M. C. Anderson and C. Hain

This study examines the evolution of several model-based and satellite-derived drought metrics sensitive to soil moisture and vegetation conditions during the extreme flash drought event that impacted major agricultural areas across the central U.S. during 2012. Standardized anomalies from the remote sensing based Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) and Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) and soil moisture anomalies from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) are compared to the United States Drought Monitor (USDM), surface meteorological conditions, and crop and soil moisture data compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Overall, the results show that rapid decreases in the NLDAS and ESI anomalies often precede drought intensification in the USDM by several weeks. Decreases in the ESI tended to occur up to several weeks before deteriorations were observed in the crop condition datasets. The NLDAS soil moisture anomalies matched concurrent anomalies in the NASS soil moisture datasets; however, some differences were noted in how each model responded to the changing drought conditions. The VegDRI anomalies tracked the evolution of the USDM drought depiction in regions with slow drought development, but lagged the USDM and other drought indicators when conditions were changing rapidly. Comparison to the crop condition datasets revealed that soybean conditions were most similar to ESI anomalies computed over short time periods (2-4 weeks), whereas corn conditions were more closely related to longer-range (8-12 week) ESI anomalies.

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