Anatomy of a Local‐Scale Drought: Application of Assimilated Remote Sensing Products, Crop Model, and Statistical Methods to an Agricultural Drought Study

Mishra, Ashok K.; Ines, Amor Valeriano M.; Das, Narendra N.; Khedun, Prakash; Singh, Vijay P.; Sivakumar, Bellie; Hansen, James W.

Drought is of global concern for society but it originates as a local problem. It has a significant impact on water quantity and quality and influences food, water, and energy security. The consequences of drought vary in space and time, from the local scale (e.g. county level) to regional scale (e.g. state or country level) to global scale. Within the regional scale, there are multiple socio-economic impacts (i.e., agriculture, drinking water supply, and stream health) occurring individually or in combination at local scales, either in clusters or scattered. Even though the application of aggregated drought information at the regional level has been useful in drought management, the latter can be further improved by evaluating the structure and evolution of a drought at the local scale. This study addresses a local-scale agricultural drought anatomy in Story County in Iowa, USA. This complex problem was evaluated using assimilated AMSR-E soil moisture and MODIS-LAI data into a crop model to generate surface and sub-surface drought indices to explore the anatomy of an agricultural drought. Quantification of moisture supply in the root zone remains a gray area in research community, this challenge can be partly overcome by incorporating assimilation of soil moisture and leaf area index into crop modeling framework for agricultural drought quantification, as it performs better in simulating crop yield. It was noted that the persistence of subsurface droughts is in general higher than surface droughts, which can potentially improve forecast accuracy. It was found that both surface and subsurface droughts have an impact on crop yields, albeit with different magnitudes, however, the total water available in the soil profile seemed to have a greater impact on the yield. Further, agricultural drought should not be treated equal for all crops, and it should be calculated based on the root zone depth rather than a fixed soil layer depth. We envisaged that the results of this study will enhance our understanding of agricultural droughts in different parts of the world.


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Also Published In

Journal of Hydrology

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Published Here
September 10, 2021


Pre-submission draft.