11 Examining the Value of Global Seasonal Reference Evapotranspiration Forecasts to Support FEWS NET's Food Insecurity Outlooks

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Dan McEvoy, DRI, Reno, NV; and S. Shukla, M. Hobbins, G. Husak, J. Huntington, C. C. Funk, D. Macharia, and J. Verdin

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) team provides foodinsecurity outlooks for several developing countries in Africa, Central Asia, and CentralAmerica. Thus far in terms of agroclimatic conditions that influence food insecurity, FEWS NET’s primary focus has been on the seasonal precipitation forecasts while not adequately accounting for the atmospheric evaporative demand, which is also directly related to agricultural production and hence food insecurity, and is most often estimated by reference evapotranspiration (ETo). This presentation reports on the development of a new global ETo seasonal reforecast and skill evaluation with a particular emphasis on the potential use of this dataset by the FEWS NET to support food insecurity early warning. The ETo reforecasts span the 1982-2009 period and are calculated following ASCE's formulation of Penman-Monteith method driven by seasonal climate forecasts of monthly mean temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation from NCEP's CFSv2 and NASA's GEOS-5 models. The skill evaluation using deterministic and probabilistic scores focuses on the December-February (DJF), March-May (MAM), June-August (JJA) and September-November (SON) seasons. The results indicate that ETo forecasts are a promising tool for early warning of drought and food insecurity. The FEWS NET regions with promising level of skill (correlation >0.35 at lead times of 3 months) include Northern Sub-Saharan Africa (DJF, dry season), Central America (DJF, dry season), parts of East Africa (JJA, wet Season), Southern Africa (JJA, dry season), and Central Asia (MAM, wet season). A case study over parts of East Africa for the JJA season shows that, in combination with the precipitation forecasts, ETo forecasts could have provided early warning of recent severe drought events (e.g., 2002, 2004, 2009) that contributed to substantial food insecurity in the region.
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