Yao, YJ, Liang, SL, Qin, QM, Wang, KC (2010). Monitoring Drought over the Conterminous United States Using MODIS and NCEP Reanalysis-2 Data. JOURNAL OF APPLIED METEOROLOGY AND CLIMATOLOGY, 49(8), 1665-1680.
Monitoring land surface drought using remote sensing data is a challenge, although a few methods are available. Evapotranspiration (ET) is a valuable indicator linked to land drought status and plays an important role in surface drought detection at continental and global scales. In this study, the evaporative drought index (EDI), based on the estimated actual ET and potential ET (PET), is described to characterize the surface drought conditions. Daily actual ET at 4-km resolution for April-September 2003-05 across the continental United States is estimated using a simple improved ET model with input solar radiation acquired by Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) at a spatial resolution of 4 km and input meteorological parameters from NCEP Reanalysis-2 data at a spatial resolution of 32 km. The PET is also calculated using some of these data. The estimated actual ET has been rigorously validated with ground-measured ET at six Enhanced Facility sites in the Southern Great Plains (SGP) of the Atmosphere Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) and four AmeriFlux sites. The validation results show that the bias varies from -11.35 to 27.62 W m(-2) and the correlation coefficient varies from 0.65 to 0.86. The monthly composites of EDI at 4-km resolution during April-September 2003-05 are found to be in good agreement with the Palmer Z index anomalies, but the advantage of EDI is its finer spatial resolution. The EDI described in this paper incorporates information about energy fluxes in response to soil moisture stress without requiring too many meteorological input parameters, and performs well in assessing drought at continental scales.