Temperature conditions have been hotter than average across the region for February, March and April, 2016, and medium term Forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization Lead Center for Long-Range Forecast also indicate the probability of temperatures being above normal will continue into May. Precipitation has also been below the long term average over Syria in February, March and April, 2016 and this coupled with the higher temperatures has seen vegetation growth for this time period to be below average. 2015 had a higher than average precipitation and therefore shows a greater NDVI difference for 2016 than compared to the Long Term Average.
Vegetation conditions continue to look good over the northern and central Iraq when compared to the long term average, while north-eastern Syria also shows above average vegetation activity. The rainfall over most of Iraq is above the previous year as well as above the 15 year average, so conditions at the moment seem relatively good for crop production and livestock grazing.
The growing season for winter crops is almost over. Wheat and barley are at the maturing/drying stage before harvest takes place in May/June. Rain in April/ May, may actually be counter-productive to the harvest. The consequences of higher temperature and lower rainfall in the Syria affected areas have taken their toll already during the maturing phase of these crops, with lower than average yields predicted.
Please note that since the ASI is based on Remotely Sensed data only, and there is no confirmation on what crops have been planted.