Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 12 items for :

  • Journal of Hydrometeorology x
  • Advancing Drought Monitoring and Prediction x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All
Eric F. Wood, Siegfried D. Schubert, Andrew W. Wood, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Kingtse C. Mo, Annarita Mariotti, and Roger S. Pulwarty

Abstract

This paper summarizes and synthesizes the research carried out under the NOAA Drought Task Force (DTF) and submitted in this special collection. The DTF is organized and supported by NOAA’s Climate Program Office with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and involves scientists from across NOAA, academia, and other agencies. The synthesis includes an assessment of successes and remaining challenges in monitoring and prediction capabilities, as well as a perspective of the current understanding of North American drought and key research gaps. Results from the DTF papers indicate that key successes for drought monitoring include the application of modern land surface hydrological models that can be used for objective drought analysis, including extended retrospective forcing datasets to support hydrologic reanalyses, and the expansion of near-real-time satellite-based monitoring and analyses, particularly those describing vegetation and evapotranspiration. In the area of drought prediction, successes highlighted in the papers include the development of the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) suite of seasonal model forecasts, an established basis for the importance of La Niña in drought events over the southern Great Plains, and an appreciation of the role of internal atmospheric variability related to drought events. Despite such progress, there are still important limitations in our ability to predict various aspects of drought, including onset, duration, severity, and recovery. Critical challenges include (i) the development of objective, science-based integration approaches for merging multiple information sources; (ii) long, consistent hydrometeorological records to better characterize drought; and (iii) extending skillful precipitation forecasts beyond a 1-month lead time.

Full access
Hongshuo Wang, Jeffrey C. Rogers, and Darla K. Munroe

Abstract

Soil moisture shortages adversely affecting agriculture are significantly associated with meteorological drought. Because of limited soil moisture observations with which to monitor agricultural drought, characterizing soil moisture using drought indices is of great significance. The relationship between commonly used drought indices and soil moisture is examined here using Chinese surface weather data and calculated station-based drought indices. Outside of northeastern China, surface soil moisture is more affected by drought indices having shorter time scales while deep-layer soil moisture is more related on longer index time scales. Multiscalar drought indices work better than drought indices from two-layer bucket models. The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) works similarly or better than the standardized precipitation index (SPI) in characterizing soil moisture at different soil layers. In most stations in China, the Z index has a higher correlation with soil moisture at 0–5 cm than the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), which in turn has a higher correlation with soil moisture at 90–100-cm depth than the Z index. Soil bulk density and soil organic carbon density are the two main soil properties affecting the spatial variations of the soil moisture–drought indices relationship. The study may facilitate agriculture drought monitoring with commonly used drought indices calculated from weather station data.

Full access
Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, David Mocko, Rolf Reichle, Yuqiong Liu, Kristi R. Arsenault, Youlong Xia, Michael Ek, George Riggs, Ben Livneh, and Michael Cosh

Abstract

The accurate knowledge of soil moisture and snow conditions is important for the skillful characterization of agricultural and hydrologic droughts, which are defined as deficits of soil moisture and streamflow, respectively. This article examines the influence of remotely sensed soil moisture and snow depth retrievals toward improving estimates of drought through data assimilation. Soil moisture and snow depth retrievals from a variety of sensors (primarily passive microwave based) are assimilated separately into the Noah land surface model for the period of 1979–2011 over the continental United States, in the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) configuration. Overall, the assimilation of soil moisture and snow datasets was found to provide marginal improvements over the open-loop configuration. Though the improvements in soil moisture fields through soil moisture data assimilation were barely at the statistically significant levels, these small improvements were found to translate into subsequent small improvements in simulated streamflow. The assimilation of snow depth datasets were found to generally improve the snow fields, but these improvements did not always translate to corresponding improvements in streamflow, including some notable degradations observed in the western United States. A quantitative examination of the percentage drought area from root-zone soil moisture and streamflow percentiles was conducted against the U.S. Drought Monitor data. The results suggest that soil moisture assimilation provides improvements at short time scales, both in the magnitude and representation of the spatial patterns of drought estimates, whereas the impact of snow data assimilation was marginal and often disadvantageous.

Full access
Bart Nijssen, Shraddhanand Shukla, Chiyu Lin, Huilin Gao, Tian Zhou, Ishottama, Justin Sheffield, Eric F. Wood, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

The implementation of a multimodel drought monitoring system is described, which provides near-real-time estimates of surface moisture storage for the global land areas between 50°S and 50°N with a time lag of about 1 day. Near-real-time forcings are derived from satellite-based precipitation estimates and modeled air temperatures. The system distinguishes itself from other operational systems in that it uses multiple land surface models (Variable Infiltration Capacity, Noah, and Sacramento) to simulate surface moisture storage, which are then combined to derive a multimodel estimate of drought. A comparison of the results with other historic and current drought estimates demonstrates that near-real-time nowcasting of global drought conditions based on satellite and model forcings is entirely feasible. However, challenges remain because hydrological droughts are inherently defined in the context of a long-term climatology. Changes in observing platforms can be misinterpreted as droughts (or as excessively wet periods). This problem cannot simply be addressed through the addition of more observations or through the development of new observing platforms. Instead, it will require careful (re)construction of long-term records that are updated in near–real time in a consistent manner so that changes in surface meteorological forcings reflect actual conditions rather than changes in methods or sources.

Full access
Youlong Xia, Michael B. Ek, David Mocko, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Justin Sheffield, Jiarui Dong, and Eric F. Wood

Abstract

This study analyzed uncertainties and correlations over the United States among four ensemble-mean North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) percentile-based drought indices derived from monthly mean evapotranspiration ET, total runoff Q, top 1-m soil moisture SM1, and total column soil moisture SMT. The results show that the uncertainty is smallest for SM1, largest for SMT, and moderate for ET and Q. The strongest correlation is between SM1 and SMT, and the weakest correlation is between ET and Q. The correlation between ET and SM1 (SMT) is strongest in arid–semiarid regions, and the correlation between Q and SM1 (SMT) is strongest in more humid regions in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast. Drought frequency analysis shows that SM1 has the most frequent drought occurrence, followed by SMT, Q, and ET. The study compared the NLDAS drought indices (a research product) with the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM; an operational product) in terms of drought area percentage derived from each product. It proposes an optimal blend of NLDAS drought indices by searching for weights for each index that minimizes the RMSE between NLDAS and USDM drought area percentage for a 10-yr period (2000–09) with a cross validation. It reconstructed a 30-yr (1980–2009) Objective Blended NLDAS Drought Index (OBNDI) and monthly drought percentage. Overall, the OBNDI performs the best with the smallest RMSE, followed by SM1 and SMT. It should be noted that the contribution to OBNDI from different variables varies with region. So a single formula is probably not the best representation of a blended index. The representation of a blended index using the multiple formulas will be addressed in a future study.

Full access
Kingtse C. Mo and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

The current generation of drought monitors uses physically based indices, such as the standardized precipitation index (SPI), total soil moisture (SM) percentiles, and the standardized runoff index (SRI) to monitor precipitation, soil moisture, and runoff deficits, respectively. Because long-term observations of soil moisture and, to a lesser extent, spatially distributed runoff are not generally available, SRI and SMP are more commonly derived from land surface model–derived variables, where the models are forced with observed quantities such as precipitation, surface air temperature, and winds. One example of such a system is the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). While monitoring systems based on sources like NLDAS are able to detect droughts, they are challenged by classification of drought into, for instance, the D0–D4 categories used by the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), in part because of uncertainties among multiple drought indicators, models, and assimilation systems. An objective scheme for drawing boundaries between the D0–D4 classes used by the USDM is explored here. The approach is based on multiple SPI, SM, and SRI indices, from which an ensemble mean index is formed. The mean index is then remapped to a uniform distribution by using the climatology of the ensemble (percentile) averages. To assess uncertainties in the classification, a concurrence measure is used to show the extent to which the different indices agree. An approach to drought classification that uses both the mean of the ensembles and its concurrence measure is described. The classification scheme gives an idea of drought severity, as well as the representativeness of the ensemble mean index.

Full access
Hailan Wang, Siegfried Schubert, Randal Koster, Yoo-Geun Ham, and Max Suarez

Abstract

This study compares the extreme heat and drought that developed over the United States in 2011 and 2012 with a focus on the role of sea surface temperature (SST) forcing. Experiments with the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), atmospheric general circulation model show that the winter/spring response over the United States to the Pacific SST is remarkably similar for the two years despite substantial differences in the tropical Pacific SST. As such, the pronounced winter and early spring temperature differences between the two years (warmth confined to the south in 2011 and covering much of the continent in 2012) primarily reflect differences in the contributions from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with both acting to cool the east and upper Midwest during 2011, while during 2012 the Indian Ocean reinforced the Pacific-driven, continental-wide warming and the Atlantic played a less important role. During late spring and summer of 2011, the tropical Pacific SST forced a continued warming and drying over the southern United States, though considerably weaker than observed. Nevertheless, the observed 2011 anomalies fall well within the model’s intraensemble spread. In contrast, the observed rapid development of intense heat and drying over the central United States during June and July 2012 falls on the margins of the model’s intraensemble spread, with the response to the SST giving little indication that 2012 would produce record-breaking precipitation deficits and heat. A diagnosis of the 2012 observed circulation anomalies shows that the most extreme heat and drought was tied to the development of a stationary Rossby wave and an associated anomalous upper-tropospheric high maintained by weather transients.

Full access
Johnna M. Infanti and Ben P. Kirtman

Abstract

The present study investigates the predictive skill of the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) system for intraseasonal-to-interannual (ISI) prediction with focus on southeastern U.S. precipitation. The southeastern United States is of particular interest because of the typically short-lived nature of above- and below-normal extended rainfall events allowing for focus on seasonal prediction, as well as the tendency for more predictability in the winter months. Included in this study is analysis of the forecast quality of the NMME system when predicting above- and below-normal rainfall and individual rainfall events, with particular emphasis on results from the 2007 dry period. Both deterministic and probabilistic measures of skill are utilized in order to gain a more complete understanding of how accurately the system predicts precipitation at both short and long lead times and to investigate the multimodel aspect of the system as compared to using an individual predictive model. The NMME system consistently shows low systematic error and relatively high skill in predicting precipitation, particularly in winter months as compared to individual model results.

Full access
Jiarui Dong, Mike Ek, Dorothy Hall, Christa Peters-Lidard, Brian Cosgrove, Jeff Miller, George Riggs, and Youlong Xia

Abstract

Understanding and quantifying satellite-based, remotely sensed snow cover uncertainty are critical for its successful utilization. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow cover errors have been previously recognized to be associated with factors such as cloud contamination, snowpack grain sizes, vegetation cover, and topography; however, the quantitative relationship between the retrieval errors and these factors remains elusive. Joint analysis of the MODIS fractional snow cover (FSC) from Collection 6 (C6) and in situ air temperature and snow water equivalent measurements provides a unique look at the error structure of the MODIS C6 FSC products. Analysis of the MODIS FSC dataset over the period from 2000 to 2005 was undertaken over the continental United States (CONUS) with an extensive observational network. When compared to MODIS Collection 5 (C5) snow cover area, the MODIS C6 FSC product demonstrates a substantial improvement in detecting the presence of snow cover in Nevada [30% increase in probability of detection (POD)], especially in the early and late snow seasons; some improvement over California (10% POD increase); and a relatively small improvement over Colorado (2% POD increase). However, significant spatial and temporal variations in accuracy still exist, and a proxy is required to adequately predict the expected errors in MODIS C6 FSC retrievals. A relationship is demonstrated between the MODIS FSC retrieval errors and temperature over the CONUS domain, captured by a cumulative double exponential distribution function. This relationship is shown to hold for both in situ and modeled daily mean air temperature. Both of them are useful indices in filtering out the misclassification of MODIS snow cover pixels and in quantifying the errors in the MODIS C6 product for various hydrological applications.

Full access
Paul A. Dirmeyer, Jiangfeng Wei, Michael G. Bosilovich, and David M. Mocko

Abstract

A quasi-isentropic, back-trajectory scheme is applied to output from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and a land-only replay with corrected precipitation to estimate surface evaporative sources of moisture supplying precipitation over every ice-free land location for the period 1979–2005. The evaporative source patterns for any location and time period are effectively two-dimensional probability distributions. As such, the evaporative sources for extreme situations like droughts or wet intervals can be compared to the corresponding climatological distributions using the method of relative entropy. Significant differences are found to be common and widespread for droughts, but not wet periods, when monthly data are examined. At pentad temporal resolution, which is more able to isolate floods and situations of atmospheric rivers, values of relative entropy over North America are typically 50%–400% larger than at monthly time scales. Significant differences suggest that moisture transport may be a key factor in precipitation extremes. Where evaporative sources do not change significantly, it implies other local causes may underlie the extreme events.

Full access