University of Sussex
nhess-22-2725-2022.pdf (11.03 MB)

A dynamic hierarchical Bayesian approach for forecasting vegetation condition

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posted on 2023-06-10, 05:06 authored by Edward Efui Kwaku Salakpi, Peter D Hurley, James Muthoka, Andrew Bowell, Seb OliverSeb Oliver, Pedram RowhaniPedram Rowhani
Agricultural drought, which occurs due to a significant reduction in the moisture required for vegetation growth, is the most complex amongst all drought categories. The onset of agriculture drought is slow and can occur over vast areas with varying spatial effects, differing in areas with a particular vegetation land cover or specific agro-ecological sub-regions. These spatial variations imply that monitoring and forecasting agricultural drought require complex models that consider the spatial variations in a given region of interest. Hierarchical Bayesian models are suited for modelling such complex systems. Using partially pooled data with sub-groups that characterise spatial differences, these models can capture the sub-group variation while allowing flexibility and information sharing between these sub-groups. This paper's objective is to improve the accuracy and precision of agricultural drought forecasting in spatially diverse regions with a hierarchical Bayesian model. Results showed that the hierarchical Bayesian model was better at capturing the variability for the different agro-ecological zones and vegetation land covers compared to a regular Bayesian auto-regression distributed lags model. The forecasted vegetation condition and associated drought probabilities were more accurate and precise with the hierarchical Bayesian model at 4- to 10-week lead times. Forecasts from the hierarchical model exhibited higher hit rates with a low probability of false alarms for drought events in semi-arid and arid zones. The hierarchical Bayesian model also showed good transferable forecast skills over counties not included in the training data.


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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences




Copernicus GmbH





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  • Geography Publications

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  • Sussex Sustainability Research Programme Publications

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