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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2012 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop new remote sensing, modeling and data assimilation techniques to improve the monitoring of hydrologic fluxes and agricultural pollutant pathways at the field, watershed and regional scale.

1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Effective management of these watersheds requires detailed process-level understanding concerning the complex hydrologic and constitutive flux pathways that govern: the availability of root-zone soil moisture, the delivery of agricultural pollutants to surface water bodies and feedbacks operating along the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. The inability to measure the relative magnitude of these pathways hampers the development of effective water management strategies at watershed- and regional-scales. This project attempts to develop novel remote sensing and modeling tools to better characterize key hydrologic and constitutive flux pathways operating within agricultural watersheds. An overarching theme of the project is that the integration of remote sensing products into models can enhance the utility of models for critical agricultural applications.

3.Progress Report:
This is the final report for this project which was terminated in December 2011 and replaced with project 1265-13610-028-00D “Leveraging remote sensing, land surface modeling and ground-based observations for the integrative assessment of water quantity and quality variables within heterogeneous agricultural landscapes.”

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.

Last Modified: 1/29/2015
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