The record-breaking Texas drought was more serious than previously thought

This figure reflects the drought region and severity of Texas from 2010 to 2013. The graph below shows the findings of the US Drought Monitor, the current standard for designating droughts across the United States. The figure above reflects the findings of an updated model incorporating additional soil moisture-related data from satellites. Updated model simulations show that more parts of Texas are experiencing longer and more severe droughts than previously thought. D0-D4 is a drought level that increases in severity as the number increases. Credits: Department of Geology, University of Texas Jackson.

In 2011, Texas experienced one of the worst droughts in history. Dry and dry conditions have caused the loss of over $ 7 billion in crops and livestock, caused wildfires, pushed the power grid to the limit and reduced reservoirs to dangerously low levels.

And according to a recent study led by a geoscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, Drought It was worse than previously thought.

Studies published in Hydrological Journal, Additional soil moisture related data from satellite gravity and microwave sensors Land surface model Used by scientists to determine the severity of a drought. According to an updated model simulation, the severe drought was broader and lasting than determined by the current standard for specifying droughts across the United States, the US Drought Monitor (USDM).

“Technological advances have enabled more real-time observations, which can more accurately reflect ground conditions,” said the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Geological Sciences, UT Jackson. Weijing Chen said.

The 2011 drought is more than a decade old, but research shows that incorporating new data sources related to soil moisture into existing surface models can more accurately predict the severity and impact of drought. The result is important.

Soil moisture is an important indicator of drought and one of the most important indicators. Important factors Regarding the impact of drought on agricultural production.

USDM incorporates many indexes, expertise, and data sources for developing survey results, including hydrological models that give estimates of local soil moisture. UT researchers have taken the model one step further by using data assimilation techniques to incorporate a combination of real-time satellite measurements related to soil moisture into the model. Microwave satellite data provided the top two inches of soil moisture measurements. Adding gravity satellite data gave soil moisture measurements for the rest of the root zone (up to about 40 inches).

“Soil moisture in the root area is very important because it determines the water supply to the vegetation,” said Chen.

USDM releases weekly maps showing which regions of the United States are drought. It is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture. The results are used to trigger disaster declarations and other federal, state, and local responses.

Chen and her team have incorporated satellite data into existing surface models used by researchers around the world. Then they focused on what that meant for the Texas drought from 2010 to 2013.

Regarding the geographic extent of the drought, the updated model simulation and USDM were in agreement.However, updated model simulations have shown that more areas are experiencing more. Severe drought Especially in the western half of the state, than determined by the USDM. The new model also discovered that a widespread drought began in 2010, much earlier than the USDM.

The results also differ from what was the worst week of the historic drought. In the case of USDM, it was the week of October 4, 2011, with the most serious categories of drought accounting for 87.99% of the state. For the new model, it was the week of April 5, 2011, when 95.1% of the states suffered the most severe drought.

For Texas, researchers are trying to develop ways to better understand drought, as policy makers seek to determine how the state’s water resources are affected by climate change and population growth. Said it was important.

“Using measurements from space is a smart way to detect and monitor droughts more realistically,” said co-author Zon Liang Yang, a professor at Jackson School.

Grassland ecosystem response to drought

For more information:
Weijing Chen et al, a more severe drought detected by assimilation of brightness temperatures and terrestrial water storage anomalies in Texas between 2010 and 2013, Hydrological Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jhydrol.2021.126802

Quote: A more serious record-breaking Texas drought (October 6, 2021) than previously thought, https: // Obtained from .html on October 6, 2021

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The record-breaking Texas drought was more serious than previously thought

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