Drought over Western Europe

Category : L2

Western Europe is experiencing a noticeable deficit of water. England has already considered the situation as serious (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17102615), see the following map of drought risk.


SMOS allows us to get the soil moisture content of the top layer of the surface, but this drought is well observed. It concerns not only the UK but also Spain as can be seen in the following figure. It presents the soil moisture as derived from SMOS in February 2010, 2011 and 2012 (average values), for ascending overpasses (corresponding to measurements in the morning at ~ 6am, solar local time). Note that February 2010 was still the beginning of the mission and  the commissioning phase, which explains some lack in the retrievals.


Low soil moisture levels are seen in yellow (less than 0.10 m3 of water / m3 of soil, i.e. less than 10%  in average in February), and it is more obvious when compared to the soil moisture at the same period last year. The next figure shows the differences between the months of February 2012 and February 2011 over Europe (as 2012 – 2011), for the ascending overpasses . The red color (i.e. negative values) stands for 2012 being drier than February 2011, whereas the blue is the opposite, i.e. February 2011 being drier than 2012. The Following animation presents also a zoom over Spain, which presents a significant decrease of water content.



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