Rapid changing climate has increased the risk of natural hazards and threatened global and regional food security. Near real-time monitoring of crop response to agrometeorological hazards is fundamental to ensuring national and global food security. However, quantifying crop responses to a specific hazard in the natural environment is still quite challenging, especially over large areas, due to the lack of tools to separate the independent impact of the hazard on crops from other confounding factors. In this study, we present a general difference-in-differences (DID) framework to monitor crop response to agrometeorological hazards at near real-time using widely accessible remotely sensed vegetation indices (VIs). To demonstrate the effectiveness of the DID framework, we applied it in quantifying the dry-hot wind impact on winter wheat in northern China as a case study using the VIs calculated from the MODIS data. The monitoring results for three years with varying severity levels of dry-hot events (i.e., 2007, 2013, and 2014) demonstrated that the framework can effectively detect winter wheat growing areas affected by dry-hot wind hazards. The estimated damage shows a notable relationship (R2
= 0.903, p
< 0.001) with the dry-hot wind intensity calculated from meteorological data, suggesting the effectiveness of the method when field data on a large scale is not available for direct validation. The main advantage of this method is that it can effectively isolate the impact of a specific hazard (i.e., dry-hot wind in the case study) from the mixed signals caused by other confounding factors. This general DID framework is very flexible and can be easily extended to other natural hazards and crop types with proper adjustment. Not only can this framework improve the crop yield forecast but also it can provide near real-time assessment for farmers to adapt their farming practice to mitigate impacts of agricultural hazards.
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