An Agro-Climatological Early Warning Tool Based on the Google Earth Engine to Support Regional Food Security Analysis
Abstract:The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) focuses on food insecurity in developing nations and provides objective, evidence based analysis to help government decision-makers and relief agencies plan for and respond to humanitarian emergencies. The Google Earth Engine (GEE) is a platform provided by Google Inc. to support scientific research and analysis of environmental data in their cloud environment. The intent is to allow scientists and independent researchers to mine massive collections of environmental data and leverage Google's vast computational resources to detect changes and monitor the Earth’s surface and climate. GEE hosts an enormous amount of satellite imagery and climate archives, one of which is the Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Stations dataset (CHIRPS). The CHIRPS dataset is land based, quasi-global (latitude 50N-50S), 0.05 degree resolution, and has a relatively long term period of record (1981-present). CHIRPS is on a continuous monthly feed into the GEE as new data fields are generated each month. This precipitation dataset is a key input for FEWS NET monitoring and forecasting efforts.
FEWS NET intends to leverage the GEE in order to provide analysts and scientists with flexible, interactive tools to aid in their monitoring and research efforts. These scientists often work in bandwidth limited regions, so lightweight Internet tools and services that bypass the need for downloading massive datasets to analyze them, are preferred for their work. The GEE provides just this type of service. We present a tool designed specifically for FEWS NET scientists to be utilized interactively for investigating and monitoring for agro-climatological issues. We are able to utilize the enormous GEE computing power to generate on-the-fly statistics to calculate precipitation anomalies, z-scores, percentiles and band ratios, and allow the user to interactively select custom areas for statistical time series comparisons and predictions.