PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (10): 1758-1769.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.10.014

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Advances in agricultural drought monitoring based on soil moisture

WU Zemian1,2,3(), QIU Jianxiu1,2,3,*(), LIU Suxia4,5, MO Xingguo4,5   

  1. 1. Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Urbanization and Geo-simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Mineral Resource & Geological Processes of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3. Southern Laboratory of Ocean Science and Engineering (Guangdong, Zhuhai), Zhuhai 519000, Guangdong, China
    4. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    5. College of Resources and Environment / Sino-Danish College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-12-19 Revised:2020-05-25 Online:2020-10-28 Published:2020-12-28
  • Contact: QIU Jianxiu;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971031);National Key R&D Program of China(2018YFE0106500)


Soil moisture (SM) is a key variable for assessing agricultural drought. For a long time, due to the lack of large-scale, high-precision, continuous SM measurements, SM-based agricultural drought monitoring has been limited in application. With the recent development of remote sensing technologies, the spatial-temporal coverage and accuracy of SM data have been improved significantly. Agricultural drought monitoring indicators using SM have received increasing attention. This study systematically summarized the main characteristics of the SM data sets from multiple sources including in-situ measurements and microwave remote sensing, and further reviewed the three categories of agricultural drought indicators based on SM: 1) drought indicators based on long-term SM; 2) drought indicators based on both SM and soil hydraulic parameters; and 3) integrated drought indicators based on multiple variables including SM. Finally, with the aim of providing some reference for future research, we envisioned the challenges and opportunities for agricultural drought monitoring from the perspectives of 1) the development of SM data; 2) the strengthening of agricultural drought mechanism research; and 3) the improvement of agricultural drought monitoring systems.

Key words: agricultural drought, soil moisture, drought monitoring indicators