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Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS)

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Drought Monitoring

Application of Remote Sensing for Drought Monitoring

Drought strikes somewhere in the United States every year, turning green landscapes brown as precipitation falls below normal levels and water supplies dwindle. Drought is typically a temporary climatic aberration, but it is also an insidious natural hazard. It might last for weeks, months, or years and may have many negative impacts. Drought can threaten crops, livestock, and livelihoods, stress wildlife and habitats, and increase wildfire risks and threats to human health.

Drought conditions can vary tremendously from place to place and week to week. Accurate drought monitoring is essential to understand a drought's progression and potential impacts, and to provide information necessary to support drought mitigation decisions. It is also crucial in light of climate change where droughts could become more frequent, severe, and persistent.

A team of researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, the National Drought Mitigation Center, and the High Plains Regional Climate Center are developing methods utilizing remote sensing for regional-scale mapping and monitoring of drought conditions for the conterminous U.S. The ultimate goal of the project is to deliver timely geo-referenced information (in the form of maps and data) about areas where the vegetation is impacted by drought.

Research and methods for Drought Monitoring are developed in tandem with Remote Sensing Phenology.

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