Analyzing Drought Conditions in Desert and Rainforest Environments

EarthzineDEVELOP 2016 Spring VPS, Managing Water Quality and Precipitation Anomalies, Original

Category: Managing Water Quality and Precipitation Anomalies
Project Team: Levant and Central America Climate
Team Location: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information – Asheville, North Carolina

Project image highlighting study regions and example analyses. Image Credit: Levant and Central America Climate Team

Project image highlighting study regions and example analyses. Image Credit: Levant and Central America Climate Team

Alec Courtright
Christine Stevens
Hayley Hajic

Major Ryan Harris (14th Weather Squadron)
Raymond Kiess (14th Weather Squadron)
Dr. L. DeWayne Cecil (Global Science and Technology Inc.)

Past/Other Contributors:
Jessica Sutton (Center Lead)


The Levant region, comprising Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Iraq, as well as countries along the Central American “Dry Corridor,” including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, suffer from frequent drought and heavy precipitation events. Drought induces stress on water resources and the agricultural community, which can serve as catalysts to conflict. Drought as a catalyst is exemplified in the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Heavy precipitation events also have the potential to negatively affect communities through landslides and flooding. The U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron uses authoritative climate data to inform military intelligence and planning in regions impacted by extreme weather events. The 14th Weather Squadron currently focuses on analyzing precipitation data to monitor drought. This project seeks to incorporate additional climatic variables to augment their drought-monitoring techniques. A more comprehensive examination of several climatic variables can enhance military planning and intelligence in areas susceptible to conflict. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is a useful estimation of vegetation conditions. By analyzing historic vegetation patterns (ranging from June 1981 to November 2015) this project identifies vegetative trends measuring the onset, extent, intensity, and duration of several climatic events on vegetative stress, such as: droughts, El Niño Southern Oscillation events and seasonal climate changes. Vegetation also is closely related to short-term atmospheric dynamics and provides valuable insight into crop assessment and early drought detection when paired with other drought monitoring systems. This project utilizes NDVI data from NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth observations to diversify the data and variables used by the 14th Weather Squadron’s current drought and heavy precipitation monitoring systems in the Levant and Central American regions.

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