The U.S. is predicting droughts sooner with satellites

The U.S. is predicting droughts sooner with satellites.
"Agricultural stress occurs when crops do not have adequate soil water during their growth cycle," explained agricultural researcher Christopher Hain.
Now a new tool is letting the U.S. agriculture community tap into space-based data to see this stress before it takes its toll.
Providing that critical information sooner was the focus of an Applied Sciences project which used Earth observations to detect drought conditions across North America at a much earlier stage.
The result was the development of a tool called the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI), which in many cases can indicate the beginnings of a drought two-to-four weeks earlier than current drought indicators.
They allow the ESI to assess moisture conditions on the ground—independent of precipitation.
This decisionsupport system supplements information sources already available to the water resource and agriculture communities, such as the U.S. Drought Monitor.
A state agency is also turning to it for guidance.
"We’ll be developing an operational global ESI dataset which will serve a large group of engaged stakeholders."
Initially, the stakeholders will include groups like the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the Global Drought Information System, and the GEOGLAM Early Warning Crop Monitor—and Hain is working on engaging more.

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