Truth in the Soil: Using SMAP to Monitor Drought in Southeast US

Category: Monitoring Drought
Project Team: Southeast United States Agriculture
Team Location: Wise County Clerk of Court’s Office – Wise, Virginia

Standardized Soil Moisture Index layers of three-day data. The Standardized Soil Moisture Index is a Z-score of SMAP data compared to NLDAS historic statistics. Image Credit: Southeast Agriculture Team

Standardized Soil Moisture Index layers of three-day data. The Standardized Soil Moisture Index is a Z-score of SMAP data compared to NLDAS historic statistics. Image Credit: Southeast Agriculture Team

Authors:
Yaping Xu
Yousra Benchekroun
Kimberly Berry
Grant Bloomer

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)
Dr. DeWayne Cecil (Global Science & Technology)
Bob VanGundy (The University of Virginia’s College at Wise)
Michael Bender (Wise County, Virginia)

Past/Other Contributors:
Michael Brooke (Center Lead)

Abstract:

Regional climate variability in the southeastern United States is a concern for agricultural and forestry management. Droughts are an important consequence of this variability, affecting the agricultural and forestry sectors’ ability to manage water resources. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH) has developed a tool called Lately Identified Geospecific Heightened Threat System (LIGHTS) to provide information for its users that would increase water management efficiency. It identifies and alerts users to changes in drought, temperature, and precipitation patterns. However, LIGHTS lacks soil moisture information, which also affects drought patterns. This project aims to update the current drought monitoring system by incorporating Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) level 3 data as a support layer, by retrieving Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSI) as a measure and by using Python as the programming language. Ground truth soil moisture data from Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) were collected for validation. As a result, this integration of SMAP data into SERCH LIGHTS will increase the end-user’s water management capabilities in response to drought conditions.

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