2012 Annual Report
The central goal of this project was the development of novel remote sensing and modeling tools to better characterize key hydrologic and constitutive flux pathways operating within agricultural watersheds. All final project objectives were either fully or substantially met. Research conducted under the project contributed a number of notable advances including the implementation of a near-real-time operational drought monitoring system at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using thermal remote sensing and modeling tools, and the establishment of an operational link with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s (FAS) global crop monitoring system to deliver root-zone soil moisture estimates derived using innovative microwave remote sensing and data assimilation strategies. Project personnel were also responsible for substantial contributions to satellite mission concepts underlying the European Space Agency (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Landsat Data Continuity (LCM) missions. These tech transfer and programmatic accomplishments were underscored by continued basic remote sensing research, including important methodological advances in handling variability in atmospheric properties during the remote measurement of surface energy fluxes, the correction of vegetation effects on microwave remote sensing of surface soil moisture and the use of visible and near-infrared remote sensing to evaluate the ability of winter cover crops to uptake soil nitrogen. The project also contained a key regional focus on the enhancement of water quality monitoring tools within the Chesapeake Bay region. Example output from such work include a better characterization of water quality model sensitivity to parameter uncertainty, the development of new remote sensing algorithms for mapping wetland extent, and an improved understanding of water flow pathways between the soil surface and stream channels within agricultural landscapes in the region.