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  • Author or Editor: Kingtse C. Mo x
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Kingtse C. Mo
,
Lindsey N. Long
,
Youlong Xia
,
S. K. Yang
,
Jae E. Schemm
, and
Michael Ek

Abstract

Drought indices derived from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) are compared with indices derived from the ensemble North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) and the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) over the United States. Uncertainties in soil moisture, runoff, and evapotranspiration (E) from three systems are assessed by comparing them with limited observations, including E from the AmeriFlux data, soil moisture from the Oklahoma Mesonet and the Illinois State Water Survey, and streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The CFSR has positive precipitation (P) biases over the western mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Ohio River valley in winter and spring. In summer, it has positive biases over the Southeast and large negative biases over the Great Plains. These errors limit the ability to use the standardized precipitation indices (SPIs) derived from the CFSR to measure the severity of meteorological droughts. To compare with the P analyses, the Heidke score for the 6-month SPI derived from the CFSR is on average about 0.5 for the three-category classification of drought, floods, and neutral months. The CFSR has positive E biases in spring because of positive biases in downward solar radiation and high potential evaporation. The negative E biases over the Great Plains in summer are due to less P and soil moisture in the root zone. The correlations of soil moisture percentile between the CFSR and the ensemble NLDAS are regionally dependent. The correlations are higher over the area east of 100°W and the West Coast. There is less agreement between them over the western interior region.

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Martha C. Anderson
,
Christopher Hain
,
Jason Otkin
,
Xiwu Zhan
,
Kingtse Mo
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Brian Wardlow
, and
Agustin Pimstein

Abstract

Comparison of multiple hydrologic indicators, derived from independent data sources and modeling approaches, may improve confidence in signals of emerging drought, particularly during periods of rapid onset. This paper compares the evaporative stress index (ESI)—a diagnostic fast-response indicator describing evapotranspiration (ET) deficits derived within a thermal remote sensing energy balance framework—with prognostic estimates of soil moisture (SM), ET, and runoff anomalies generated with the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). Widely used empirical indices based on thermal remote sensing [vegetation health index (VHI)] and precipitation percentiles [standardized precipitation index (SPI)] were also included to assess relative performance. Spatial and temporal correlations computed between indices over the contiguous United States were compared with historical drought classifications recorded in the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). Based on correlation results, improved forms for the ESI were identified, incorporating a Penman–Monteith reference ET scaling flux and implementing a temporal smoothing algorithm at the pixel level. Of all indices evaluated, anomalies in the NLDAS ensemble-averaged SM provided the highest correlations with USDM drought classes, while the ESI yielded the best performance of the remote sensing indices. The VHI provided reasonable correlations, except under conditions of energy-limited vegetation growth during the cold season and at high latitudes. Change indices computed from ESI and SM time series agree well, and in combination offer a good indicator of change in drought severity class in the USDM, often preceding USDM class deterioration by several weeks. Results suggest that a merged ESI–SM change indicator may provide valuable early warning of rapidly evolving “flash drought” conditions.

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