US: University of Cincinnati researchers are at work tracking drought patterns across the United States. Qiusheng Wu, a doctoral student and research assistant for the UC Department of Geography, and Hongxing Liu, a UC professor and head of the Department of Geography, will present details at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Tampa, Florida.
To trace the dynamics around agricultural drought, the researchers implemented an event-based spatial-temporal data model (ESTDM) to detect, track and monitor conditions. The framework organizes data into objects, sequences, processes and events.
The data was collected from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite. The satellite uses an L-band (1.4 Ghz) passive microwave radiometer to analyze the spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture and ocean salinity.The study focused on four years of data (2010-2014), which included the devastating Texas drought in 2011 and the 2014 California drought.
By studying the soil moisture data from the satellite, researchers can study where the droughts begin and end, and various indicating patterns of how it can spread. The pattern might be used to predict the drought in another location, so that those areas could take precautions to avoid the impact of an oncoming drought.
The research team also confirmed that future assessments will involve data gathered from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, which will be launched towards the end of the year.
Source: University of Cincinnati