Satellite data on the movement of water on Earth helps to improve the accuracy of moisture maps and forecasts.
NASA researchers have developed new satellite-based, weekly global maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions and one- to three-month U.S. forecasts of each product. While maps of current dry/wet conditions for the United States have been available since 2012, this is the first time they have been available globally.
“The global products are important because there are so few worldwide drought maps out there,” said hydrologist and project lead Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Droughts are usually well known when they happen in developed nations. But when there’s a drought in central Africa, for example, it may not be noticed until it causes a humanitarian crisis. So it’s valuable to have a product like this where people can say, ‘Wow, it’s really dry there and no one’s reporting it.'”
Using measurements from two satellite missions assimilated into a computer model, researchers have created global maps of terrestrial water around the planet. In addition, they can forecast water availability in the United States up to three months out.
Music credit: “Lines of Enquiry” from Universal Production Music
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio
These maps are distributed online by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to support U.S. and global drought monitoring.
“Being able to see a weekly snapshot of both soil moisture and groundwater is important to get a complete picture of drought,” said professor Brian Wardlow, director for the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies at UNL, who works closely with Rodell on developing remote sensing tools for operational drought monitoring.
Monitoring the wetness of the soil is essential for managing agricultural crops and predicting
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