Highlight: Beginning 2024 reveals drought in Brazil, South Africa, and Western Australia.
Fig. 1: The December 2023 global soil moisture anomalies and 3-month trend.
Observation discussion: During the past 3 months Canada remained firmly in historic drought (Fig. 1). In the U.S., the Midwest, Mid-south, and northern Gulf States turned drier. The drier Gulf States trend is a surprise given the El Nino climate. The West-central U.S. and into Texas trend was wetter while California reversed somewhat drier. In vicinity of the Panama Canal where low water caused by an El Nino drought has observed a wetter trend during late 2024. In South America, the Central/East-central Brazil drought strengthened while Southeast Brazil to Argentina soils trend somewhat wetter. In Europe, a much wetter soil moisture trend was observed which extends to well east of Caspian Sea. However, Northwest Africa to Southern France and Italy shifted to stronger drought. Asia observed minor soil moisture changes during Q4/2023 including wetter conditions in Northeast Asia and west of Japan plus drier conditions for Southwest China. Indonesia trend was drier while Australia observed mixed conditions as Western Australia drought worsened while the eastern half of the continent was generally wetter, a surprise given El Nino climate. Presence of +IOD caused widespread wetter changes in East Africa to Saudi Arabia while South Africa drought developed.