Long-Term Drought Grips the Western U.S. – Soils and Plants Are Parched

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US West Drought Soil Moisture Anomaly June 2021

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June 5, 2021

For the 2nd year in a row, dry spell has actually surpassed much of the United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast.

For the 2nd year in a row, dry spell has actually parched much of the United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast. Following among the world’s hottest years on record, and with rainfall this year well below par in the western U.S., researchers and federal government companies are expecting decreased water resources and possibly extreme fire seasons.

According to the June 10 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, 88.5 percent of the acreage in the West—specified as California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—is experiencing some level of dry spell, with 55 percent being categorized as “extreme.” An approximated 90 percent of Utah is under severe dry spell conditions, with 64 percent ranked “exceptional” (the worst category). Similar conditions are reported throughout Arizona (87 percent extreme), California (85 percent), and Nevada (76 percent). More than 58 million individuals are coping with the dry conditions in the area.

US Soil Moisture Anomaly June 2021

June 5, 2021

The map above deals one indication of the conditions on June 5, 2021. Using information from the Crop Condition and Soil Moisture Analytics (Crop-CASMA) item, the map reveals soil wetness abnormalities, or how the water material in the leading meter (3 feet) of soil compares to regular conditions for the time of year. Crop-CASMA incorporates measurements from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite and plant life indices from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites.

Released in April 2021, the Crop-CASMA portal deals soil wetness details more regularly (every 2 to 3 days) and on smaller sized scales (down to the level of towns and counties rather of states) than numerous other information items. Farmers and resource supervisors can utilize soil wetness information to assist time crop planting and watering, to anticipate yields, and to track dry spells and floods. The item was established by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), George Mason University, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One of the main users of the dataset is the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

US Evaporative Stress Index May 2021 Annotated

May 28, 2021

The 2nd map supplies a step of the health of plant life from March 5 to May 28, 2021. The Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) portrays the level of evapotranspiration, or just how much and how rapidly water is vaporizing from the land surface area and from the leaves of plants. Measuring evapotranspiration works since unfavorable levels can show that plants are dealing with tension even if leaves have actually not yet wilted or turned brown. ESI information is stemmed from observations of land surface area temperature levels from NOAA’s geostationary satellites and of leaf location index from Terra and Aqua. ESI is thought about especially beneficial for observing “flash drought” and farming dry spell.

In current years, NASA has actually enhanced its efforts to make satellite information more available and relevant to partners at other federal and state water and farming companies. One of those efforts is the Western Water Applications Office, which is linking researchers and engineers with farmers, tank supervisors, and other decision-makers to enhance the forecasting of water schedule, the management of water resources, and the adjustment to and mitigation of dry spell.

Drought conditions in the West are most likely to worsen in 2021. The newest NOAA Climate Prediction Center projection kept in mind: “Short-term and long-term drought remains entrenched throughout a majority of the West…The Southwest is typically dry during June until monsoon rainfall begins later in July. Based on below-normal precipitation during the past 30 to 60 days, low soil moisture conditions, and elevated monthly and seasonal probabilities of near to below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures for June-July-August, drought is expected to persist over the south-central West and to expand northward across parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies.”

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, utilizing soil wetness information from Crop Condition and Soil Moisture Analytics (Crop-CASMA) and evaporative tension index information from SERVIR.



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