Monitoring and Characterizing Seasonal Drought, Water Supply Pattern and Their Impact on Vegetation Growth Using Satellite Soil Moisture Data, GRACE Water Storage and In-situ Observations.
Abstract:We combine soil moisture (SM) data from AMSR-E, AMSR-2 and SMAP, terrestrial water storage (TWS) changes from GRACE, in-situ groundwater measurements and atmospheric moisture data to delineate and characterize the evolution of drought and its impact on vegetation growth.
GRACE TWS provides spatially continuous observations of total terrestrial water storage changes and regional drought extent, persistence and severity, while satellite derived soil moisture estimates provide enhanced delineation of plant-available soil moisture. Together these data provide complementary metrics quantifying available plant water supply. We use these data to investigate the supply changes from water components at different depth in relation to satellite based vegetation metrics, including vegetation greenness (NDVI) measures from MODIS and related higher order productivity (GPP) before, during and following the major drought events observed in the continental US for the past 14 years. We observe consistent trends and significant correlations between monthly time series of TWS, SM, NDVI and GPP. We study how changes in atmosphere moisture stress and coupling of water storage components at different depth impact on the spatial and temporal correlation between TWS, SM and vegetation metrics. In Texas, we find that surface SM and GRACE TWS agree with each other in general, and both capture the underlying water supply constraints to vegetation growth. Triggered by a transit increase in precipitation following the 2011 hydrological drought, vegetation productivity in Texas shows more sensitivity to surface SM than TWS. In the Great Plains, the correspondence between TWS and vegetation productivity is modulated by temperature-induced atmosphere moisture stress and by the coupling between surface soil moisture and groundwater through irrigation.