Assessing the Remotely Sensed Drought Severity Index for Agricultural Drought Monitoring in North China

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Jie Zhang, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, Jianxi Huang, CAU China Agricultural University, Beijing, China and Qiaozhen Mu, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, United States
With a warming climate, the world has experienced frequent droughts during the past few decades. A remotely sensed Drought Severity Index (DSI), which integrates both vegetation growth condition and evapotranspiration, has been recently proposed for drought monitoring at the global scale. However, there has been little research on its utility for regional application, especially on agricultural drought. As an important winter wheat producing region, the North China has suffered from frequent droughts in recent years. In this study, the capability of the DSI for drought monitoring and impact analysis in five wheat producing provinces of North China was investigated. First, the DSI was compared with precipitation and soil moisture to show its ability for characterizing moisture status. Then specifically for agricultural drought, the DSI was evaluated against agricultural drought severity and the impacts of drought on crop yield during the growing season were also explored using the 8-day DSI data. The main conclusions are: (1) The DSI shows generally good ability for characterizing moisture conditions at the province level with varying ability during winter wheat main growing season (March-June), and the best relationship was found in April. (2) Despite varying capability, the DSI is quite effective in characterizing agricultural drought severity at the province level. (3) Drought shows generally increasing agricultural impacts during winter wheat main growing season (March-June), with little impacts in March (green-up stage), emerging impacts in April (jointing and booting stages) and significant drought impacts in May (heading and filling stages). (4) Based on the spatial pattern of agricultural drought impacts, densely winter wheat planted areas such as South Hebei, Central/West Shandong and North/East Henan are identified as drought vulnerable regions and comprehensive monitoring in these hotspots is highly recommended.