There is a new way to look at drought stress in Illinois – from space. Called VegDRI, this product integrates “satellite-based observations of vegetation conditions, climate data, and other biophysical information such as land cover/land use type, soil characteristics, and ecological setting. The VegDRI maps that are produced deliver continuous geographic coverage over large areas, and have inherently finer spatial detail (1-km resolution) than other commonly available drought indicators such as the U.S. Drought Monitor,” according to the VegDRI website.
In other words, it looks at crop stress as it relates exclusively to drought. The maps are updated every two weeks.
The August 22, 2011, map below shows that crops in much of western and central Illinois are showing much stress from the lack of rain and high temperatures in July and August. If you go to the VegDRI website, you can see a national map. Click on a state to get a closer view. Scroll down the state page and click on the quadrant map of the state so see even more detail.
The National Drought Mitigation Center produces VegDRI in collaboration with the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), and the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC), with sponsorship from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA). Main researchers working on VegDRI are Dr. Brian Wardlow and Dr. Tsegaye Tadesse at the NDMC, and Jesslyn Brown with the USGS, and Dr. Yingxin Gu with ASRC Research and Technology Solutions, contractor for the USGS at EROS.