Monitoring Agricultural Risk in Canada Using L-Band Passive Microwave Soil Moisture from SMOS.

Champagne, C., Davidson, A.M., Cherneski, P., L’Heureux, J., and Hadwen, T. (2015). "Monitoring Agricultural Risk in Canada Using L-Band Passive Microwave Soil Moisture from SMOS.", Journal of Hydrometeorology, 16(1), pp. 5-18. doi : 10.1175/JHM-D-14-0039.1  Access to full text

Abstract

Soil moisture from Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) passive microwave satellite data was assessed as an information source for identifying regions experiencing climate-related agricultural risk for a period from 2010-2013. Both absolute soil moisture and soil moisture anomalies compared to a four year SMOS satellite baseline were used in the assessment. The four year period that SMOS has been operating was in many locations wetter than the 30 year climate normal, particularly in the late summer for most regions, and in the spring for the province of Manitoba. This leads to a somewhat unrepresentative baseline that skews anomaly measures at different parts of the growing season. SMOS soil moisture does, however, show a clear trend where extremes are present, with drier than average conditions during periods where drought and dry soil risks were identified, and wetter than average conditions where flooding and excess moisture were present. Areas where extreme weather events caused crop losses were identifiable using SMOS soil moisture, both at the provincial and regional scales. The variability in soil moisture between at-risk areas and normal areas is very small but consistent, both geographically and over time, making SMOS a good real-time indicator for risk assessment.

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