Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published in Remote Sensing of Drought: Innovative Monitoring Approaches, edited by Brian D. Wardlow, Martha C. Anderson, & James P. Verdin (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2012).


U.S. Government Work


The value of satellite remote sensing for drought monitoring was first realized more than two decades ago with the application of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) for assessing the effect of drought on vegetation, as summarized by Anyamba and Tucker (2012, Chapter 2). Other indices such as the Vegetation Health Index (VHI) (Kogan, 1995) were also developed during this time period and applied to AVHRR NDVI and brightness temperature data for routine global monitoring of drought conditions. These early efforts demonstrated the unique perspective that global imagers like AVHRR could provide for operational drought monitoring through near-daily, synoptic observations of earth’s land surface. However, the advancement of satellite remote sensing for drought monitoring was limited by the relatively few spectral bands on operational global sensors such as AVHRR, along with a relatively short observational record.