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UK Research and Innovations (2017)

Improving Droughts Monitoring in East Africa

Drought Monitoring

Titre : Improving Droughts Monitoring in East Africa

Pays/Région : East Africa

Durée : sept. 17 - oct. 21

Référence projet : 1942292
Catégorie : Studentship

Résumé partiel
The last few decades have seen devastating droughts affect millions of people in East Africa. Most recently, the 2015 Ethiopian drought left more than 80 million people requiring emergency food assistance. A theme running throughout this project is the need to deliver research that is useful to decision makers, thus meeting a fundamental goal of climate science ; namely to reduce the impact of natural hazards.

I focus on answering 4 related questions : * 1) Can we combine satellite derived datasets to produce a holistic drought metric ? * 2) Using these datasets and relevant climatological information can we use machine learning (neural networks) to improve standard statistical approaches to predicting vegetation health and drought extent ? * 3) Can we more accurately estimate climatic and ecosystem thresholds and the risk of reaching these thresholds ? * 4) What have been the impacts of historical droughts on the Ethiopian and Kenyan society and economy ?

I have used satellite derived estimation of precipitation, evapotranspiration and soil moisture to quantify the magnitude and spatial extent of droughts over the last 30 years. These datasets have been used to create a number of indices, covering the entire hydrological cycle in order to more properly quantify droughts in East Africa. Moving beyond meteorological drought is important for decision makers who need to understand how drought propagates through the terrestrial part of the hydrological cycle. Satellite data was used because of its low latency, high spatial resolution and relatively long period of record. This work has been carried out with the CASE Industrial Partner, Airbus and their remote sensing division.

We developed a novel algorithm for estimating vegetation health, a useful proxy for agricultural drought, and sought to quantify and understand the relationships between vegetation health and climatological variables. This is essential for better forecasting of hydrological droughts and is a key space for improvement, constantly called for by farmers, insurers and policy makers in both Kenya and Ethiopia.

Lead Research Organisation : University of Oxford

Financement : Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

UK Research and Innovations

Page publiée le 25 septembre 2022