Crops Dropping Like it’s Hot!

EarthzineDEVELOP Summer 2014 VPS, Original

Project Team: Southeast U.S. Water Team
Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

Visual representation of monthly potential evapotranspiration (cm) for Alabama and Georgia.

Visual representation of monthly potential evapotranspiration (cm) for Alabama and Georgia.

Carrea M. Dye, Project Lead (Eastern Kentucky University)
Samira Daneshgar Asl (Florida State University)
Cara Estes (Florida State University)

Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA Global Hydrology and Climate Center)

Past/Other Contributors:
DEVELOP Spring 2014 Southeast U.S. Water Resources I Team:
Kaylin Bugbee, Sherry Barrett, Samuel Ayers, and Modeste Muhire

In 2012, limited rain and low soil moisture resulted in a drought which impacted crop fields in the Midwest and Southwest United States. Water scarcity in the Western United States is a high priority concern, which makes it increasingly important for the Southeast United States to develop more sustainable irrigation practices. Understanding evapotranspiration and monitoring potential evapotranspiration is beneficial in determining areas that are more prone to drought. Evapotranspiration is the sum of evaporation from the land surface plus transpiration from plants. Monitoring evapotranspiration will play a vital role in determining the effects of climate on agricultural ecosystems in the Southeast United States. An easily accessible tool was developed that monitors drought via drought indices and calculates Arid Index (AI), which is precipitation
subtracted from monthly potential evapotranspiration. The tool allows areas of high productivity to be mapped in order to increase crop yields.

Corn, which is the largest crop in terms of production and consumption, is also a high priority. The Vegetation Drought Index (VDI) is used to monitor agricultural drought in corn fields of the Southeast United States. VDI was developed from normalized difference water index (NDWI) and day-night land surface temperature (LST) difference. Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8 day land surface temperature & emissivity, Land Surface Reflectance products from 2008 to 2013 were collected over the study area. Monthly precipitation and potential evapotranspiration from 2008 to 2013 were utilized to evaluate the potential water input and output of the soil. The purpose of this project was to assist agencies such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Southeast United States in developing more efficient water withdraw monitoring system, which in turn will protect future economic endeavors and promote more sustainable irrigation practices.

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