J15.5 Hydrologic Information for Tracking Water Availability in Africa and the Middle East

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 9:30 AM
Room 335/336 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Amy McNally, ESSIC/UMD at NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and A. Getirana, K. R. Arsenault, and C. Peters-Lidard

Drought impacts water resources required by crops and communities, in turn threatening lives and livelihoods. Early warning systems, which rely on inputs from hydro-climate models, are used to help manage risk and provide humanitarian assistance to the right place at the right time. However, translating advancements in hydro-climate science into action is a persistent and time-consuming challenge: scientists and decision-makers need to work together to enhance the salience, credibility, and legitimacy of the hydrological data products being produced. One organization that tackles this challenge is the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), which has been using evidence-based approaches to address food security since the 1980s.In this presentation, we describe the FEWS NET Land Data Assimilation System (FLDAS), developed by FEWS NET and NASA hydrologic scientists to maximize the use of limited hydro-climatic observations for humanitarian applications. The FLDAS, an instance of the NASA Land Information System (LIS), is comprised of land surface models driven by satellite rainfall inputs already familiar to FEWS NET food security analysts. First, we evaluate the quality of model outputs over parts of the Middle East and Africa using remotely sensed soil moisture and vegetation indices. We then describe derived water availability indices that have been identified by analysts as potentially useful sources of information. Specifically, we demonstrate how the Baseline Water Stress and Drought Severity Index detect recent water availability crisis events in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin and the Gaborone Reservoir, Botswana. Finally we discuss ongoing work to deliver this information to FEWS NET analysts in a timely and user-friendly manner, with the ultimate goal of integrating these water availability metrics into regular decision-making activities.
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