On its website, NASA has created a short time-lapse video of the drought from 2010-2012. Using satellite information from plant stress indicators, it maps the presence (or non-presence) of water.
The article states, “Plants cool themselves by sweating water extracted from the soil by their roots. When access to water is limited, plants lessen their consumption and reduce evapotranspiration from leaf surfaces. As a result, leaves heat up and produce an elevated leaf or canopy temperature, which can be detected by thermal sensors on NOAA’s geostationary weather satellites. Hotter plants imply limited water in the soil.”
The imagery doesn’t predict the weather patterns for the future, it shows what is happening. “Plant stress information has the potential to improve the skill of existing forecasts that predict drought out to weeks or months.”
Read the article and watch the short video here: Plant Stress Paints Early Picture of Drought