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FFAR Funded: ISSE, UTIA address decision-making tools for flash droughts and floods

February 2024

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) has funded a project proposed by a UTK and UTIA research team of John Schwartz (CEE, TNWRRC), Brian Lieb (UTIA), Shawn Hawkins (UTIA), Mingzhou Jin (ISE, ISSE), and Yuefeng Hao (ISSE).

The funding is for $532,082 over three years.

Project Title – A Multi-source Remote Sensing-based Framework and Decision-support Tool for Climate Change-induced Flash Droughts and Floods

Project Description

Ninety percent of crop losses in the U.S. are related to extreme weather, with drought (44%) and excess moisture (27%) being the top two causes. These environmental effects are sensitive to both long-term climatic change and short-term weather ‘shocks’ or flash droughts and floods. Climate change is causing these short-term events to become more frequent and intense in certain regions, which adversely impacts agricultural production during the growing season. Understanding how different crop species respond to both short-term and long-term nature hazards can inform irrigation strategies and agricultural water management practices. 

The project PIs will tackle these questions: (1) What is the frequency, duration, intensity, and trend of drought and flood in targeted watersheds? (2) How do different crop species respond to both short-term and long-term nature hazards in terms of irrigation and water use efficiency? (3) What is the potential increase in crop yield under different irrigation application rates? (4) What models can address the uncertainty associated with flash droughts and flash floods under climate change and balance the tradeoff among agriculture production, economic values, environmental impacts, resilience, and justice (especially in underserved communities)? They will test the hypothesis that a multi-source remote sensing-based framework can optimize irrigation plans and improve irrigation and water use efficiency. This hypothesis will be tested with historical data from 2002 to 2017 and validated based on ground measurements in farmland in East Tennessee. 

About FFAR

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to support bold science. Our research, co-created with the agriculture community, fills critical research gaps. We also invest in the future scientific workforce. Our public-private partnership model brings private investment to public agriculture research. Congress provides public funding through the Farm Bill. The law requires that we match every dollar of public funding with at least one dollar from a private source.