Calculating crop water requirement satisfaction in the West Africa Sahel with remotely sensed soil moisture

Journal of Hydrometeorology
Amy McNally; Gregory J. Husak; Molly Brown; Mark Carroll; Chris Funk; Joel Michaelsen; Soni Yatheendradas; Kristi Arsenault, Christa Peters-Lidard; James P. Verdin
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will provide soil moisture data with unprecedented accuracy, resolution, and coverage, enabling models to better track agricultural drought and estimate yields. In turn, this information can be used to shape policy related to food and water from commodity markets to humanitarian relief efforts. New data alone, however, do not translate to improvements in drought and yield forecasts. New tools will be needed to transform SMAP data into agriculturally meaningful products. The objective of this study is to evaluate the possibility and efficiency of replacing the rainfall-derived soil moisture component of a crop water stress index with SMAP data. The approach is demonstrated with 0.1°-resolution, ~10-day microwave soil moisture from the European Space Agency and simulated soil moisture from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network Land Data Assimilation System. Over a West Africa domain, the approach is evaluated by comparing the different soil moisture estimates and their resulting Water Requirement Satisfaction Index values from 2000 to 2010. This study highlights how the ensemble of indices performs during wet versus dry years, over different land-cover types, and the correlation with national-level millet yields. The new approach is a feasible and useful way to quantitatively assess how satellite-derived rainfall and soil moisture track agricultural water deficits. Given the importance of soil moisture in many applications, ranging from agriculture to public health to fire, this study should inspire other modeling communities to reformulate existing tools to take advantage of SMAP data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Calculating crop water requirement satisfaction in the West Africa Sahel with remotely sensed soil moisture
Series title Journal of Hydrometeorology
DOI 10.1175/JHM-D-14-0049.1
Volume 16
Issue 1
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Publisher location Boston, MA
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 11 p.
First page 295
Last page 305
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N