Assessing the remotely sensed Drought Severity Index for agricultural drought monitoring and impact analysis in North China

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Ecological Indicators

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Remote sensing can provide real-time and dynamic information for terrestrial ecosystems, facilitating effective drought monitoring. A recently proposed remotely sensed Drought Severity Index (DSI), integrating both vegetation condition and evapotranspiration information, shows considerable potential for drought monitoring at the global scale. However, there has been little research on regional DSI applications, especially concerning agricultural drought. As the most important winter wheat producing region in China, North China has suffered from frequent droughts in recent years, demonstrating high demand for efficient agricultural drought monitoring and drought impact analyses. In this paper, the capability of the MODIS DSI for agricultural drought monitoring was evaluated and the drought impacts on winter wheat yield were assessed for 5 provinces in North China. First, the MODIS DSI was compared with precipitation and soil moisture at the province level to examine its capability for characterizing moisture status. Then specifically for agricultural drought monitoring, the MODIS DSI was evaluated against agricultural drought severity at the province level. The impacts of agricultural drought on winter wheat yield during the main growing season were also explored using 8-day MODIS DSI data. Overall, the MODIS DSI is generally effective for characterizing moisture conditions at the province level, with varying ability during the main winter wheat growing season and the best relationship observed in April during the jointing and booting stages. The MODIS DSI agrees well with agricultural drought severity at the province level, with better performance in rainfed-dominated than irrigation-dominated regions. Drought shows varying impacts on winter wheat yield at different stages of the main growing season, with the most significant impacts found during the heading and grain-filling stages, which could be used as the key alert period for effective agricultural drought monitoring.






© 2015 Elsevier

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