Interactions between precipitation, evapotranspiration and soil-moisture-based indices to characterize drought with high-resolution remote sensing and land-surface model data

Gaona, Jaime ; Quintana-Seguí, Pere ; Escorihuela, María José ; Boone, Aaron ; Llasat, María Carmen

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<p align=justify>The Iberian Peninsula is prone to drought due to the high variability in the Mediterranean climate with severe consequences for drinking water supply, agriculture, hydropower and ecosystem functioning. Because of the complexity and relevance of droughts in this region, it is necessary to increase our understanding of the temporal interactions of precipitation, evapotranspiration and soil moisture that originate from drought within the Ebro basin, in northeastern Spain, as the study region. Remote sensing and land-surface models provide high-spatial-resolution and high-temporal-resolution data to characterize evapotranspiration and soil moisture anomalies in detail. The increasing availability of these datasets has the potential to overcome the lack of in situ observations of evapotranspiration and soil moisture. In this study, remote sensing data of evapotranspiration from MOD16A2 and soil moisture data from SMOS1km as well as SURFEX-ISBA land-surface model data are used to calculate the evapotranspiration deficit index (ETDI) and the soil moisture deficit index (SMDI) for the period 2010-2017. The study compares the remote sensing time series of the ETDI and SMDI with the ones estimated using the land-surface model SURFEX-ISBA, including the standardized precipitation index (SPI) computed at a weekly scale. The study focuses on the analysis of the time lags between the indices to identify the synchronicity and memory of the anomalies between precipitation, evapotranspiration and soil moisture. Lag analysis results demonstrate the capabilities of the SPI, ETDI and SMDI drought indices computed at a weekly scale to give information about the mechanisms of drought propagation at distinct levels of the land-atmosphere system. Relevant feedback for both antecedent and subsequent conditions is identified, with a preeminent role of evapotranspiration in the link between rainfall and soil moisture. Both remote sensing and the land-surface model show capability to characterize drought events, with specific advantages and drawbacks of the remote sensing and land-surface model datasets. Results underline the value of analyzing drought with dedicated indices, preferably at a weekly scale, to better identify the quick self-intensifying and mitigating mechanisms governing drought, which are relevant for drought monitoring in semi-arid areas.</p>
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