Surveillance of agricultural drought worldwide from space using the FAO-Agriculture Stress Index System (ASIS)

FAO-Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) and the Climate and Environment Division (CBC) have developed an “Agricultural Stress Index System” (ASIS) for detecting agricultural areas with a high likelihood of water stress (drought) on a global scale using remote sensing data with the technical assistance and advice from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO-TAP) and the Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of European Commission (EC). The objective of this paper is to describe this drought monitoring system.

Data from NOAA-AVHRR and METOP-AVHRR (normalized difference vegetation index and brightness temperature) are used to calculate the per-pixel Vegetation Health Index (VHI) on a global scale, averaged over the growing season. A phenological model, based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, is developed and employed to define the start and end of the growing season. Next, the averaged VHI (temporal integration) over the growing season is aggregated over each administrative unit so the drought intensity can be assessed on spatial basis.

The resulting data flow will provide timely and direct information on drought stress in all agricultural areas of the world. ASIS would help to identify regions experiencing unfavourable crop growing conditions and food supply shortfalls and to determine food insecure areas and/or populations. ASIS assesses the severity (intensity, duration and spatial extent) of the agricultural drought and indicates the final results at administrative level, giving the possibility to compare it with the agricultural statistics of the country. Currently the ASIS database contains 30+ years of agricultural hot spots data and information, starting from 1984.

This paper is a contribution to the 2019 edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR 2019).

VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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