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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-108
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Apr 2018

Research article | 05 Apr 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Exploring seasonal and regional relationships between the Evaporative Stress Index and surface weather and soil moisture anomalies across the United States

Jason A. Otkin1, Yafang Zhong1, David Lorenz2, Martha C. Anderson3, and Christopher Hain4 Jason A. Otkin et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • 2Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • 3USDA Agricultural Research Service, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, MD, USA
  • 4Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA, Earth Science Branch, Huntsville, AL, USA

Abstract. This study uses correlation analyses to explore relationships between the satellite-derived Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) – which depicts standardized anomalies in an actual to reference evapotranspiration fraction – and various land and atmospheric variables that impact evapotranspiration. Correlations between the ESI and forcing variable anomalies calculated over sub-seasonal time scales were computed at weekly and monthly intervals during the growing season. Overall, the results revealed that the ESI is most strongly correlated to anomalies in soil moisture and 2-m dew point depression. Correlations between the ESI and precipitation were also large across most of the U.S.; however, they were typically smaller than those associated with soil moisture and vapor pressure deficit. In contrast, correlations were much weaker for air temperature, wind speed, and radiation across most of the U.S., with the exception of the south-central U.S. where correlations were large for all variables at some point during the growing season. Together, these results indicate that changes in soil moisture and near-surface atmospheric vapor pressure deficit are better predictors of the ESI than precipitation and air temperature anomalies are by themselves. Large regional and seasonal dependencies were also observed for each forcing variable. Each of the regional and seasonal correlation patterns were similar for ESI anomalies computed over 2-, 4-, and 8-wk time periods; however, the maximum correlations increased as the ESI anomalies were computed over longer time periods and also shifted toward longer averaging periods for the forcing variables.

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Short summary
Correlation analyses were used to explore relationships between the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) – which depicts anomalies in evapotranspiration (ET) – and various land and atmospheric variables that impact ET. The results revealed that the ESI is more strongly correlated to anomalies in soil moisture and near surface vapor pressure deficit than to precipitation and temperature anomalies. Large regional and seasonal dependencies in the strengths of the correlations were also observed.
Correlation analyses were used to explore relationships between the Evaporative Stress Index...
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