Journal Article

The Value of Remotely Sensed Information: The Case of a GRACE-Enhanced Drought Severity Index

Nov 29, 2017 | Richard L. Bernknopf, David S. Brookshire, Yusuke Kuwayama, Molly K. Macauley, Matthew Rodell, Alexandra Thompson, Peter Vail, Benjamin Zaitchik


A decision framework is developed for quantifying the economic value of information (VOI) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission for drought monitoring, with a focus on the potential contributions of groundwater storage and soil moisture measurements from the GRACE Data Assimilation (GRACE-DA) System. The study consists of: (a) the development of a conceptual framework to evaluate the socioeconomic value of GRACE-DA as a contributing source of information to drought monitoring; (b) structured listening sessions to understand the needs of stakeholders who are affected by drought monitoring; (c) econometric analysis based on the conceptual framework that characterizes the contribution of GRACE-DA to the US Drought Monitor (USDM) in capturing the effects of drought on the agricultural sector; and (d) a demonstration of how the improved characterization of drought conditions may influence decisions made in a real-world drought disaster assistance program. Results show that GRACE-DA has the potential to lower the uncertainty associated with our understanding of drought, and that this improved understanding has the potential to change policy decisions that lead to tangible societal benefits.