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Water 2018, 10(10), 1421; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10101421

Tools for Communicating Agricultural Drought over the Brazilian Semiarid Using the Soil Moisture Index

1
National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (Cemaden), Estrada Dr. Altino Bondensan, 500, Parque Tecnológico, São José dos Campos, SP 12247-016, Brazil
2
National Institute for Space Research (INPE), São José dos Campos, SP 12227-010, Brazil
3
Signal Theory and Communications Department, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 13 September 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Predicting Soil Moisture and Drought Conditions)
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Abstract

Soil moisture over the Brazilian semiarid region is presented in different visualizations that highlight spatial, temporal and short-term agricultural risk. The analysis used the Soil Moisture Index (SMI), which is based on a normalization of soil moisture by field capacity and wilting point. The index was used to characterize the actual soil moisture conditions into categories from severe drought to very wet. In addition, the temporal evolution of SMI was implemented to visualize recent trends in short-term drought and response to rainfall events at daily time steps, as new data are available. Finally, a visualization of drought risk was developed by considering a critical value of SMI (assumed as 0.4), below which water stress is expected to be triggered in plants. A novel index based on continuous exposure to critical SMI was developed to help bring awareness of real time risk of water stress over the region: the Index of Stress in Agriculture (ISA). The index was tested during a drought over the region and successfully identified locations under water stress for periods of three days or more. The monitoring tools presented here help to describe the real time conditions of drought over the region using daily observations. The information from those tools support decisions on agricultural management such as planting dates, triggering of irrigation, or harvesting. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil moisture; soil moisture index; drought; semiarid; relative extractable water; available water fraction soil moisture; soil moisture index; drought; semiarid; relative extractable water; available water fraction
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Zeri, M.; S. Alvalá, R.C.; Carneiro, R.; Cunha-Zeri, G.; Costa, J.M.; Rossato Spatafora, L.; Urbano, D.; Vall-Llossera, M.; Marengo, J. Tools for Communicating Agricultural Drought over the Brazilian Semiarid Using the Soil Moisture Index. Water 2018, 10, 1421.

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