Drought tracking by satellite

From the University of Cincinnati: UC Geographers Develop a System to Track the Dynamics of Drought

Detecting drought before it causes more catastrophe: the news could go down like a cool drink of water for regions feeling the heat.

drought graphic UC ingot University of Cincinnati researchers are at work tracking drought patterns across the United States. Qiusheng Wu, a doctoral student and research assistant for the UC Department of Geography, and Hongxing Liu, a UC professor and head of the Department of Geography, will present details this week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Tampa, Fla.

To trace the dynamics around agricultural drought, the UC researchers implemented an Event-based Spatial-Temporal Data Model (ESTDM) to detect, track and monitor conditions. The framework organizes data into objects, sequences, processes and events.

The data was collected from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite, which was the first of its kind dedicated to measure moisture near the surface of the soil. The study focused on four years of data (2010-2014), which included the devastating Texas drought in 2011 and the 2014 California drought.

The satellite uses an L-band (1.4 Ghz) passive microwave radiometer to analyze the spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture and ocean salinity. “Recent studies have shown that many historical drought events in the U.S. are closely related to La Niña, a phenomenon known for its periodic cooling of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. So in addition to measuring soil moisture for drought monitoring, it is also important to measure ocean salinity,” explains Wu.
drought graphic

The satellite can penetrate the Earth’s surface up to 5 centimeters, providing a soil variable for each pixel, which represents 25 kilometers. The satellite’s data collection occurred over a three-day rotation.

The researchers were examining patterns of spreading drought to develop predictions for future drought events.

“Soil moisture is defined as the ratio between volume of water and volume of soil holding the water, which is expressed in percentages, so high soil moisture indicates wet while low soil moisture indicates dry.

“By studying the soil moisture data from the satellite, we can see where the droughts begin and end, and what might indicate patterns of how it can spread over one large area. The pattern might be used to predict the drought in another location, so that those areas could take precautions to avoid the impact of an oncoming drought,” says Wu.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – known as the leading international organization for the assessment of climate change – predicted in 2012 that droughts would intensify in some seasons and in many regions worldwide in the future due to reduced precipitation and/or increased evapotranspiration.

“Drought ranks among the most costly of all natural disasters. It has wide-ranging impacts on many sectors of society, affecting agriculture, economics, ecosystems services, energy, human health, recreation and water resources. By predicting the timing, severity and movement of drought events, we can provide fundamental information for planning and management in developing a response plan,” says Wu.

Future research will involve data gathered from a satellite that NASA is launching toward the end of the year, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. The SMAP satellite integrates an L-band radar (1.26 GHz) and an L-band (1.41 GHz) radiometer as a single observation system combining the relative strengths of active and passive remote sensing for enhances soil moisture mapping. The combined radar-radiometer-based soil moisture product will be generated at about an intermediate 9-km resolution with three-day global revisit frequency. Wu says the accuracy, resolution and global coverage of SMAP soil moisture and freeze/thaw measurements would be invaluable across many science and applications disciplines including hydrology, climate and carbon cycle, and the meteorological, environmental and ecology applications communities.


 

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society that is dedicated to the advancement of geography. The meeting will feature more than 4,500 presentations, posters, workshops and field trips by leading scholars, experts and researchers. The AAG annual meeting has been held every year since the association’s founding in 1904.

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44 thoughts on “Drought tracking by satellite

  1. How do the measurements take into account hard surfaces like roads, towns, and buildings?

    Even looking at 9km squares (?) won’t this always class places like L.A. as a drought area, since I doubt concrete and tarmac is very moist.
    (I assume when they talk about 25km or 9km they mean a square of those dimensions).

  2. “The meeting will feature more than 4,500 presentations, posters, workshops and field trips by leading scholars, experts and researchers. ”

    The wording’s ambiguous. Does the 4,500 include the number of posters, or is it the number of presenters?
    If it’s presenters, it seems a bit much. Let me assume that no one attends who isn’t doing a presentation. That’s 4,500 people at that seminar studying drought forecasting. I’m strongly in favour of knowledge, but surely some of the funds spent on wages for drought forecasters would be better spent on adapting to drought.

  3. Oh, hooey. Rather than get close and personal with the drought, they get further away. That’s a cool drink of water, all right.

    “By predicting the timing, severity and movement of drought events, we can provide fundamental information for planning and management in developing a response plan.”

    “Send more money for our models!” (TO HELL WITH THE PEOPLE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL TO THE DROUGHT)

  4. IPCC: “Anything. Just – say – ANYTHING to keep our show on the road. They’re cancelling shows all over the world. In Poland and Germany we can’t even find a grade school auditorium to do a gig. Talk about … oh, just anything…. DIRT! How about dirt?”

    Scientist-for-Hire [sly look, quickly pocketing the check]: Yeah, okay. Right. Dirt it is. We’ll link that to rain and you can wave some scarves around and say it was all done by human CO2… .

    Result of Above Conversation: the above NONSENSE article.

    Selected proof of “nonsense”:

    1. “’… historical drought events in the U.S. are closely related to La Niña, … So … it is also important to measure ocean salinity,’ explains illogically speculates Wu.”
    {edited}

    2. Re: 5 cm of soil depth —

    SO WHAT if the top layer of soil is dry?!! Have they never walked through a freshly plowed field after it has sat under sunny skies for a few days? Scooped up a handful of soil? They might learn something. The top 5 cm could be quite dry while the soil below it is moist.

    3. Drought in some places, such as Envirostalinist-controlled California is contrived; it is not HEAT but diversion of water from farmland for dubious-at-best purposes, that is, government regulation CAUSES the drought.

    Thus, this statement: “By predicting the timing, severity and movement of drought events, we can provide fundamental information for planning and management in developing a response plan,… .”

    is not only fantastical “science,” it is also illogical nonsense.

    Further, it reveals two things:
    1) It’s all about CONTROL</b.; and
    2) This study is a
    DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO GAIN SOME (“ANYTHING! — JUST SAY ANYTHING!”) LEGITIMACY FOR the IPCC’S JUNK COMPUTER MODELS.
    (“We can ‘predict’ droughts! Looky here! Our computer simulations are NOT failed!!! LISTEN TO US!!!!!!”)

    Pitiful.

  5. The satellite can penetrate the Earth’s surface up to 5 centimeters

    In that case results depend on soil type. For example soil around Hajós, a fair wine district in Hungary, is loess covered by a foot of sand. I am sure the upper 2 inches can get bone dry pretty fast, while there’s still plenty of moisture below.

  6. So areas that sit on the edges of three or four regional weather patterns and soil types find that the regional weather patterns wobble back and forth. 30 years ago, North Texas was plains desert along with all the wildlife that comes with it: lizards, turtles, tarantulas, scorpions, bats etc. The weather pattern moved slightly and everyone planted green grass yards. The turtles, lizards spiders disappeared. Now it has wobbled back to desert and everyone whines about their yards and not being able to pull in record hay crops.

    Cali is diff. The weather pattern wobbles every few years and concrete does not absorb very much. No water left in the soil because the gov has taken it and wastes it on Pelosi’s golf course and her winery.

    I write response and disaster plans. I would like to know what they would put in their emergency response plan to a drought that is not already in every state and local plan and how they think their model has any impact….because it doesn’t.

  7. I commend these folks for doing novel research. As I commend any researcher who tries to advance our scientific level of understanding. There is no guarantee that their results will prove to be practically applicable. But that is the nature of research,You generally do not know in advance what you will or won’t find out. It is disheartening to see the great number of people who trash any kind of research. Should we just do nothing?

  8. I see a comment about their definition of soil moisture, but not their definition of drought.

  9. “By studying the soil moisture data from the satellite, we can see where the droughts begin and end, and what might indicate patterns of how it can spread over one large area. The pattern might be used to predict the drought in another location, so that those areas could take precautions to avoid the impact of an oncoming drought,” says Wu”

    Can’t see how measuring soil moisture to a depth of 2 inches, when in most areas, we already have measurements along with good estimates what soil moisture is MUCH, MUCH deeper than that(at depths that would be significant and define it as drought) will contribute towards forecasting.

    Evapotranspiration in the cornbelt during the growing season, for instance would can be significant to the weather and climate to that huge region as corn roots are tapping into moisture several feet down.

    Moisture in the top 2 inches is important but
    1.We already have good measures, though this might help to fine tune those
    2. Moisture in the top 2 inches dries out fast. The vertical moisture profile in the soil could be very wet/saturated still, while the top 2 inches dry out from several days of sunny, hot and windy.

  10. Janice Moore, quite so. Fortunately, planting is in spring when surface soil holds winter moisture. If you ever watched a seed sprout, (or studied bean spouts at a grocery store) you realize the root grows faster than the crown at first. That is to get down far enough that the ambient soil moisture can be reached even on a nice warm sunny spring day. Same thing with summer rain. It is the part that soaks in that counts. same with watering a lawn. If you did not get the water to soak in at least two inches, you are just going to kill the grass by failing to encourage deep roots. Also the reason Sod is cut about 1.5 inches thick. Gives the regrowing roots a good chance of getting down fast to where it matters.
    5 cm is about two inches. That is almost the recommended planting depth for many seeds (except grasses and forbs, which do extraordinarily well at putting roots first. Check out a few garden packets.
    As nice as these satellite models might seem, they seem pretty useless for agriculture.

  11. According to the map, the part of South Carolina I’m in is in “severe” draught.

    It just rained over an inch yesterday. I tend to judge the level of draught by the level of water in the lakes. There’s no problem in that regard right now for sure, and the top 5 cm most places are fully saturated.

  12. Dear Max L D (re: 12:06),

    Good for you to try to find SOMETHING positive here. Yes, indeed, basic research is a good thing. This, however, is HIGHLY applied (to a political agenda of CONTROL) research.

    You “… commend these folks for doing novel research… .”

    I CONDEMN these folks for doing it on MY DIME.

    Please forgive the fervent tone — it was elicited not by you but by the agenda-driven “science” above.

    Your Ally for Truth in Science,

    Janice

  13. Thanks for all that great detail at 12:54pm, Rud Istvan. Some I knew, some was new!
    #(:))

  14. Add to mine of 1:24pm —

    Even more than a political or power-driven, Envirostalinist, agenda, it is a get-the-taxpayers-to-fund-my-capital-investment (e.g., windmills or solar panel production), Enviroprofiteer-driven agenda.

    Gotta keep that “human CO2 is evil” propaganda going. Without it — the whole investment scam crumbles into dust.

  15. Oh, great! I forgot to spell “ev1l” with a 1 !!!111111

    [No. You forgot to missspell “evil” with a 1. Mod]

  16. Droughts will be variable with a few light showers. Here are some short-lived droughts in the USA from the past.

    Abstract – 2002
    Larry Bensona et al
    Holocene multidecadal and multicentennial droughts affecting Northern California and Nevada
    ……….Two high-resolution Holocene-climate records are now available from the Pyramid and Owens lake basins which suggest that the Holocene was characterized by five climatic intervals. TIC and δ18O records from Owens Lake indicate that the first interval in the early Holocene (11,600–10,000 cal yr BP) was characterized by a drying trend that was interrupted by a brief (200 yr) wet oscillation centered at 10,300 cal yr BP. This was followed by a second early-Holocene interval (10,000–8000 cal yr BP) during which relatively wet conditions prevailed. During the early part of the middle Holocene (8000–6500 cal yr BP), high-amplitude oscillations in TIC in Owens Lake and δ18O in Pyramid Lake indicate the presence of shallow lakes in both basins. During the latter part of the middle Holocene (6500–3800 cal yr BP), drought conditions dominated, Owens Lake desiccated, and Lake Tahoe ceased spilling to the Truckee River, causing Pyramid Lake to decline. At the beginning of the late Holocene (∼3000 cal yr BP), Lake Tahoe rose to its sill level and Pyramid Lake increased in volume.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-3791(01)00048-8

    ———————————

    Abstract – 1998
    2000 Years of Drought Variability in the Central United States
    …..Historical documents, tree rings, archaeological remains, lake sediment, and geomorphic data make it clear that the droughts of the twentieth century, including those of the 1930s and 1950s, were eclipsed several times by droughts earlier in the last 2000 years, and as recently as the late sixteenth century. In general, some droughts prior to 1600 appear to be characterized by longer duration (i.e., multidecadal) and greater spatial extent than those of the twentieth century…….

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1998)079%3C2693:YODVIT%3E2.0.CO;2

    ———————————

    Abstract – 2011
    David W. Stahle et al
    Tree-ring data document 16th century megadrought over North America
    …….Droughts during the 1750s, 1820s, and 1850s–1860s estimated from tree rings were similar to the 1950s drought in terms of magnitude, persistence, and spatial coverage, but these earlier episodes do not appear to have surpassed the severity or extent of the Dust Bowl drought. However, longer tree-ring reconstructions of PDSI for the United States and precipitation for northwestern Mexico and western Canada indicate that the “megadrought” of the 16th century far exceeded any drought of the 20th century (Figure 1) [also see Wood-house and Overpeck, 1998], and is considered to be the most severe prolonged drought over much of North America for at least the last 500 years [Meko et al., 1995].

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/00EO00076/abstract

    ———————————

    Abstract – 2001
    Steven L. Forman et. al.
    Temporal and spatial patterns of Holocene dune activity on the Great Plains of North America: megadroughts and climate links
    ……High Plains showed peak activity sometime between ca. 7 and 5 cal. ka. Loess deposition between ca. 10 and 4 cal. ka also signifies widespread aridity…….. Periods of persistent drought are associated with a La Niña-dominated climate state, with cooling of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and later of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico that significantly weakens cyclogenesis over central North America. As drought proceeds, reduced soil moisture and vegetation cover would lessen evaporative cooling and increase surface temperatures. These surface changes strengthen the eastward expansion of a high-pressure ridge aloft and shift the jet stream northward, further enhancing continent-wide drought……..
    dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8181(00)00092-8

    We are still doomed as there were mega-droughts in the US during the Medieval Warm Period too. We must take action now! / sac

    Letter To Nature – 2012
    Justin Sheffield
    Little change in global drought over the past 60 years
    …..Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation7 that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles8 that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years……
    doi: 10.1038/nature11575

  17. @ Latitude — lol. Good point!

    *******************************

    GOOOOOOO!!!! JIMBO!

    Thanks for MORE great info.!
    #(:))

  18. @Janice Moore says:
    April 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm:

    Janice, I well understand the negativity people have about research that may be remotely connected to climate. I have had more than my share of frustrated dealings with climate “scientists” who get nice positions on our dime and basically root each other on in one big incestuous fan club. But that doesn’t mean I give up on all researchers. There are some very good ones out there who are truly interested in advancing science. Someone has to pay for the research. I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt unless/until I see a decidedly political self-agenda as being the main purpose of their research.

  19. Janice, you are welcome. In one life I am just a poor Wisconsin dairy farmer concerned about such things. Seed depth is a crucial input to our new computer controlled planters.
    In a parallel life, I am also a fairly PO’d graduate of XXXXXX university with AB, JD, and MBA degrees who just told them last night that they had lost the last vestiges of hope for major donations from me (except very explicitly targeted) because of their email Climate appeal.
    Hint, they just hired Naomi Oreskes. Another hint. War is hell, and sides take casualties
    Their side just did.
    Highest regards to another commen sense gardener, Janice.

  20. MaxLD says:
    April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm
    ………………..
    I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt unless/until I see a decidedly political self-agenda as being the main purpose of their research.

    This is why we are in so much of a mess today. People just gave them the benefit of the doubt until Climategate, Gleickgate, Himalayagate etc. :-)

  21. I’m with you, Jimbo (2:54pm).

    *******************************************
    And kind regards to you, too, Mr. Istvan!

    You and I have not only (to the small degree my little set of farming knowledge intersects with yours) soil (wrote “dirt” first, then thought, “No.”) in common, but a good deal of our education and also… dairy farming (well, sort of — I’m friends with some Washington dairy farmers — tough business, these days). Oh, and a looong time ago, my great-great-grandparents lived in Wisconsin. WUWT is a fascinating place… .

    Nice “talking” with you,

    Janice

  22. MaxLD says:
    April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm
    I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt
    ====
    Well I won’t….they are going to predict droughts…when it could flood tomorrow
    So you’ll end up with a lot of idiots preparing for a drought they can’t predict.

    How about stop this BS and spend the money on preparing for a flood, normal, or drought?
    ….which is the real problem

  23. “The pattern might be used to predict the drought in another location, so that those areas could take precautions to avoid the impact of an oncoming drought,” says Wu.

    Unfortunately, this same prediction will also be used by governments to take in more taxes and fees and more loss of freedoms.. Imagine, as soon as a prediction is made for a drought somewhere, up go the water rates and restrictions even before it starts. On top of that, without even knowing for sure if there will be a drought of any significance, or how long it will last. In theory sounds like a great idea, but in the hands of the government…. guaranteed to be a bad idea.

  24. It would be WAY better to just build more dams and lakes so you can weather the occasional droughts that come along. This to me makes way more sense that putting in place a mechanism so that the government can just increase fees and fines and impose harsh water restrictions even before a drought starts. If you have all of the things in place to handle a drought when they come along (like dams and sensible water management) then I’m all for this type of research. But, if the only preparation for droughts is to enact fees, restrictions and fines as soon as the computer models says so… not a chance.

  25. MaxLD says:
    April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm
    …………………There are some very good ones out there who are truly interested in advancing science. Someone has to pay for the research. I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt unless/until I see a decidedly political self-agenda as being the main purpose of their research.

    Here is what happens when you give them the benefit of the doubt. You waste billions of dollars for nothing.

    We were told to prepare for permanent drought in Australia by Flannery & Co.. Billions were spend on desalination plants. Australia subsequently received Biblical floods of ‘unprecedented’ proportions with inland seas and dams full to overflowing. Desalination plants were mothballed, billions wasted. Australian children weren’t supposed to know what floods are.

    http://theconversation.edu.au/climate-and-floods-flannery-is-no-expert-but-neither-are-the-experts-5709

    http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/Marine–Atmospheric-Research/AustralianRainfallFuture.aspx

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/its-not-drought-its-climate-change-say-scientists-20090829-f3cd.html#ixzz1exV8ooUb

    MaxLD, you earlier said

    It is disheartening to see the great number of people who trash any kind of research. Should we just do nothing?

    I hope I have convinced you that we should “do nothing” when they tell us what to do and just do what we have always done – adapted to changes in climate when we are convinced of permanent change. Sceptics were never convinced by the Australia permanent drought claims and we were right. Short-term alarmism leads to big time expenditure and a waste of resources. Is this a good thing?

    Remember snowfalls are now just a thing of the past? The UK ran down its grit salt stocks until near calamity struck late with huge snow, ice and frost. Need I go on???

  26. “so high soil moisture indicates wet while low soil moisture indicates dry”

    Good thing we have scientists to tell us these things or how would we ever be able to figure this out.

    So their hope is that they can predict drought conditions early by measuring soil moisture. But isn’t soil moisture basically just a proxy for rainfall? So their actually measuring long term rainfall through a proxy to try and predict droughts. And we all know how good scientists are at predicting long term rainfall directly, much less through a proxy.

    There might be useful information in their research, but predicting droughts so mitigation can be implemented early doesn’t seem to really be a practical result of their research. Practical measure to mitigate a drought basically come down to having water in storage, dams and lakes.

    Sure reducing usage helps but it is like saying candles mitigate power outages. They are stop-gap emergency measures, not solutions.

  27. Future research will involve data gathered from a satellite that NASA is launching toward the end of the year, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. The SMAP satellite integrates an L-band radar (1.26 GHz)

    Should be interesting viewing urban areas; between human construction and infrastructure of all types (buildings, roads, bridges, light/lamp posts, transformers, power lines etc.) and vehicle ‘reflections’ there ought to be plenty of glint* coming back at an L-band RADAR …

    Perhaps they have ‘modeled’ and can predict the amount of glint and energy from humans in the equation; one can already see in visual imagery the difference between urban and rural areas in the north Tejas area.

    .

    * glint

  28. Drought and global warming are funny old things.

    Guardian – 9 April 2014
    British butterflies make fluttering recovery thanks to hot summer
    Four-fifths of UK species improve numbers after 2013 and targeted conservation but extinction threat lingers
    ……But overall numbers were still well below average with last year the 14th worst summer since monitoring began. The exceptionally cold spring was a struggle for butterflies that usually emerge in April and May, with the endangered pearl-bordered fritillary falling by 22% compared to 2012 and numbers of the grizzled skipper falling by 45% to a historic low……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/09/british-butterflies-fluttering-recovery-numbers-stay-low

  29. A cooling world
    contains less moisture
    Also, as the temperature differential between the poles and equator grows larger due to the cooling from the top, very likely something will also change on earth. Predictably, there would be a small (?) shift of cloud formation and precipitation, more towards the equator, on average. At the equator insolation is 684 W/m2 whereas on average it is 342 W/m2. So, if there are more clouds in and around the equator, this will amplify the cooling effect due to less direct natural insolation of earth (clouds deflect a lot of radiation). Furthermore, in a cooling world there is more likely less moisture in the air, but even assuming equal amounts of water vapour available in the air, a lesser amount of clouds and precipitation will be available for spreading to higher latitudes. So, a natural consequence of global cooling is that at the higher latitudes it will become cooler and/or drier.

  30. These comments are strangely negative, perhaps due in part to weak reporting. But Prf. Wu is talking about developing a database to understand, track, and potentially ADAPT to drought conditions. There does not appear to be any WAG modeling going on. He and his team are collecting real world data, though obviously the data will never be perfect. But it’s a good start. Helping communities understand, predict and adapt to drought would go a long way to finding economical solutions to an ever-changing climate and help our society maintain high intensity land use. Seems like good, practical science to me. Isn’t this the kind of research we should be cheering?

    All science should contain a healthy dose of skepticism, especially climate science. But should we also be careful not to allow generalized negativity to swing the pendulum too far? I think that makes the regulars on this important blog forum look a little too much anti-science, and that undercuts the important accountability people here are providing and that is so desperately needed within the climate science community. Allowing ourselves to be branded naysayers against all science just provides an easy ad hominem attack to the zealots professing doom. And it is a turn-off to all those luke-warmers out there looking for a deeper understanding of the climate wars. Let’s keep some perspective and avoid putting on the same blinders that led so many climate scientists astray. There is SOME good climate science out there, isn’t there?

    I congratulate Prf. Wu and his team at the University of Cincinnati on this practical research. I’m sure more than a few farmers would agree. And maybe, just maybe, this kind of research could provide political leaders in California a counterbalance to the atrocious water management policies developed and implemented by eco-socialists and other ill-informed (if well-meaning) environmentalists that have led inexorably (and predictably) to the desperate water shortages there now.

  31. This will be an outstanding tool, if it works well. Of course it will be used for alarmist spin, but all good tools man has created can be used for evil as well. This should be no exception. Having some ties to agriculture myself I would be thrilled to have a product/dataset that can help me have an outlook and make on the ground decisions about plowing, cost expectations for pumping water, harvesting timelines, where I should haul beehives around the country to to find good flowering forage for the bees. Lots of possibilities. Here’s hoping it works as advertised.

  32. Berényi Péter says:

    April 9, 2014 at 10:55 am
    “The satellite can penetrate the Earth’s surface up to 5 centimeters
    In that case results depend on soil type. For example soil around Hajós, a fair wine district in Hungary, is loess covered by a foot of sand. I am sure the upper 2 inches can get bone dry pretty fast, while there’s still plenty of moisture below.”

    Precisely, there are 30 soil groups with subtypes in each group. Differences in clay abundance and type will greatly affect how well the soil holds moisture. Some soil types will therefore always appear dry if only the top 5 cm are measured.

  33. Chris says:
    April 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    chuckarama says:
    April 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Both well said. Thanks for some positive rational comments. Negativity feeds upon itself and grows like a cancer. And as you say, it gives the alarmists even more fodder by pointing out the anti-science attitude.

    Thanks again!

  34. MaxLD says:

    April 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you, MaxLD. I don’t often comment, but this comment thread seemed particularly negative and off the mark.

  35. Chris says:
    April 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I am a long time resident of Ca’s central valley and know first hand how the public policy decisions wrt water are devastating the economy. The water wars here are very real. Their long history stretches back to water agreements made a 100 years ago. While environmental policies carry much of the blame for the current situation, plenty of blame can be placed on farmers who farm crops not suited for the climate ie stone fruit in grasslands, flood irrigation as opposed to newer technologies like drip irrigation. In addition other culprits include municipal water policies that allow for wholesale waste of a precious commodity such as not metering the water being used by households. As an example Fresno just completed installing water meters on all house holds and are now in the process of phasing in paying per unit for the water used by each household as opposed to a flat fee based on the size of the lot. The rest of Ca has been on water meters for decades. The issues are complicated by the natural cycles of drought that Ca has experienced for hundreds if not thousands of years.

    Simply attacking the research as bogus or politically motivated really does not do justice to the bulk of commentary on this site. It is the reporters of this research who wrote the byline about “heat”. I don’t think Dr Wu even addresses the causality of the drought situation. Let’s not simply dismiss the research because of assumed motivations. Critique the science, absolutely. Factually and methodically a la Steve McIntyre. Dismiss it because it doesn’t agree with your political opinion? We are really better than that.

  36. Greg says:

    April 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Good points, Greg. Forgive my ignorance on California’s water history, I’m no expert. I was referring primarily to the Delta Smelt issue and the failure to enhance storage capacity due in part to environmental activists blocking dam building proposals. I’m sure, as you point out, the problem is far more complex. Surely, outdated irrigation systems used by many farmers exacerbate the problem as well as weak municipal water use monitoring. I have read that federal farming subsidies may have inadvertently encouraged farmers to grow water intensive crops and neglect investment in updating irrigation systems? It rings true, as often the hand of government is ham shaped.

    Maybe off point a bit. Back to Prf. Wu and the negativity here, Maybe Mr. Watts might elect to highlight again on this blog the importance of avoiding knee-jerk reactions to all things climate science, even where the connection is tenuous? Such ideological dismissals are off-putting and hand back the high ground so hard won.

  37. Chris says: @ April 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    These comments are strangely negative….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No, these are the type of comments that should be expected from a public whose trust has been badly abused by scientists with a nasty agenda.

    At this point I am calling for ALL federal funding of science AND academia to be cut. They have had their chance and they completely abused our trust. Time to pull the plug.

  38. As far as drought goes. This is a complete waste of money.

    1.The amount of water in reservoirs is already closely monitored
    2. The amount and timing of rainfall as well as temperature is already recorded
    3. Two inches (5 cm) in depth means diddlesquat to plants in terms of moisture.
    4. Even the IPCC said you can not predict climate because it is chaotic.

    The best you can do is the PDO + AMO drought correlation

    There are patterns to the weather and those patterns change. Better to spend the money on studying and identifying those patterns but that will not be done because it says there are natural climate patterns that STILL affect our weather and that would negate CAGW.

    As others have said this is just giving the government another stick to beat the public with. We have the 2012 hose pipe ban during a very wet spring in the UK as an example of the idiocy this can produce.

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