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  • Author or Editor: Soni Yatheendradas x
  • NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) – Pre-launch Applied Research x
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Amy McNally
,
Gregory J. Husak
,
Molly Brown
,
Mark Carroll
,
Chris Funk
,
Soni Yatheendradas
,
Kristi Arsenault
,
Christa Peters-Lidard
, and
James P. Verdin

Abstract

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will provide soil moisture data with unprecedented accuracy, resolution, and coverage, enabling models to better track agricultural drought and estimate yields. In turn, this information can be used to shape policy related to food and water from commodity markets to humanitarian relief efforts. New data alone, however, do not translate to improvements in drought and yield forecasts. New tools will be needed to transform SMAP data into agriculturally meaningful products. The objective of this study is to evaluate the possibility and efficiency of replacing the rainfall-derived soil moisture component of a crop water stress index with SMAP data. The approach is demonstrated with 0.1°-resolution, ~10-day microwave soil moisture from the European Space Agency and simulated soil moisture from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network Land Data Assimilation System. Over a West Africa domain, the approach is evaluated by comparing the different soil moisture estimates and their resulting Water Requirement Satisfaction Index values from 2000 to 2010. This study highlights how the ensemble of indices performs during wet versus dry years, over different land-cover types, and the correlation with national-level millet yields. The new approach is a feasible and useful way to quantitatively assess how satellite-derived rainfall and soil moisture track agricultural water deficits. Given the importance of soil moisture in many applications, ranging from agriculture to public health to fire, this study should inspire other modeling communities to reformulate existing tools to take advantage of SMAP data.

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