Evaluating the Impact of the 2020 Iowa Derecho on Corn and Soybean Fields Using Synthetic Aperture Radar

Thumbnail Image
Publication or External Link
Hosseini, Mehdi
Kerner, Hannah R.
Sahajpal, Ritvik
Puricelli, Estefania
Lu, Yu-Hsiang
Lawal, Afolarin Fahd
Humber, Michael L.
Mitkish, Mary
Meyer, Seth
Becker-Reshef, Inbal
Hosseini, M.; Kerner, H.R.; Sahajpal, R.; Puricelli, E.; Lu, Y.-H.; Lawal, A.F.; Humber, M.L.; Mitkish, M.; Meyer, S.; Becker-Reshef, I. Evaluating the Impact of the 2020 Iowa Derecho on Corn and Soybean Fields Using Synthetic Aperture Radar. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 3878.
On 10 August 2020, a series of intense and fast-moving windstorms known as a derecho caused widespread damage across Iowa’s (the top US corn-producing state) agricultural regions. This severe weather event bent and flattened crops over approximately one-third of the state. Immediate evaluation of the disaster’s impact on agricultural lands, including maps of crop damage, was critical to enabling a rapid response by government agencies, insurance companies, and the agricultural supply chain. Given the very large area impacted by the disaster, satellite imagery stands out as the most efficient means of estimating the disaster impact. In this study, we used time-series of Sentinel-1 data to detect the impacted fields. We developed an in-season crop type map using Harmonized Landsat and Sentinel-2 data to assess the impact on important commodity crops. We intersected a SAR-based damage map with an in-season crop type map to create damaged area maps for corn and soybean fields. In total, we identified 2.59 million acres as damaged by the derecho, consisting of 1.99 million acres of corn and 0.6 million acres of soybean fields. Also, we categorized the impacted fields to three classes of mild impacts, medium impacts and high impacts. In total, 1.087 million acres of corn and 0.206 million acres of soybean were categorized as high impacted fields.