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Remote sensing for drought monitoring & impact assessment: Progress, past challenges and future opportunities

West, Harry; Quinn, Nevil; Horswell, Michael



© 2019 Elsevier Inc. Drought is a common hydrometeorological phenomenon and a pervasive global hazard. As our climate changes, it is likely that drought events will become more intense and frequent. Effective drought monitoring is therefore critical, both to the research community in developing an understanding of drought, and to those responsible for drought management and mitigation. Over the past 50 years remote sensing has shifted the field away from reliance on traditional site-based measurements and enabled observations and estimates of key drought-related variables over larger spatial and temporal scales than was previously possible. This has proven especially important in data poor regions with limited in-situ monitoring stations. Available remotely sensed data products now represent almost all aspects of drought propagation and have contributed to our understanding of the phenomena. In this review we chart the rise of remote sensing for drought monitoring, examining key milestones and technologies for assessing meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought events. We reflect on challenges the research community has faced to date, such as limitations associated with data record length and spatial, temporal and spectral resolution. This review then looks ahead to the future in terms of new technologies, such as the ESA Sentinel satellites, analytical platforms and approaches, such as Google EarthEngine, and the utility of existing data in new drought monitoring applications. We look forward to the continuation of 50 years of progress to provide effective, innovative and efficient drought monitoring solutions utilising remote sensing technology.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2019
Journal Remote Sensing of Environment
Print ISSN 0034-4257
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 232
Article Number 111291
APA6 Citation West, H., Quinn, N., & Horswell, M. (2019). Remote sensing for drought monitoring & impact assessment: Progress, past challenges and future opportunities. Remote Sensing of Environment, 232,
Keywords drought, drought monitoring, meteorological drought, agricultural drought, hydrological drought, remote sensing of drought, review paper
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author’s accepted manuscript. The published version can be found on the publishers website here: