Submitted to: Southern Forestry and Natural Resource Management GIS Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2009
Publication Date: December 7, 2009
Citation: Jacobs, J., Choi, M., Bhat, S., Anderson, M.C., Bosch, D.D., Mecikalski, J. 2009. Operational drought characterization using thermal remote sensing: A case study in Georgia's Altamaha River Watershed. Southern Forestry and Natural Resource Management GIS Conference. Technical Abstract: The unprecedented recent droughts in the Southeast US stressed water supplies, elevated wildfire hazard risks, reduced hydropower generation and caused severe economic hardships for farmers and nurseries. Understanding the timing, severity and location of droughts continues to challenge natural resources planners and managers. Most drought indices are based on recent rainfall or changes in vegetation condition. However in heterogeneous landscapes, soil and vegetation (type and cover) combine to differentially stress regions even under similar weather conditions. This is particularly true for the heterogeneous landscapes and highly variable rainfall in the Southeast. This project used thermal-infrared imagery, a fully automated inverse model of Atmosphere-Land Exchange (ALEXI), GIS datasets and analysis tools to model daily surface moisture stress over a 10-km resolution grid covering central to southern Georgia. Regional results are presented for the 2000-2008 period. The ALEXI evaporative stress index (ESI) is compared to existing regional drought products and validated using local hydrologic, agricultural and forestry measurements in Georgia’s Altamaha River watershed.