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A New Way to Map Drought and Water Use

Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Climate Prediction has a drought briefing by teleconference to identify the latest drought areas in North America, writes Don Comis of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS scientists, Martha Anderson and Bill Kustas, are hoping that in a year or so, data from their computer model/satellite package will give evapotranspiration (ET) maps a seat at that briefing.

With funding from NOAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), they have developed a modelling system that NOAA will use to generate ET estimates over the continental United States. NOAA will evaluate these ET products to see how well they work for operational hydrologic and meteorological modeling. One application of the remotely sensed ET maps will be to monitor drought over the United States from a satellite’s perspective.

Anderson is a physical scientist and Kustas is a hydrologist; both are at the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.

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