To gain a more comprehensive picture of drought-affected areas, NASA has developed the first global groundwater map and hopes it will be a useful means of monitoring water supplies in the face of rising global temperatures,media reported. The agency, along with researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is known to have developed the new tool, and their team used data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Tracking (GRACE-FO) satellite.
The GRACE-FO observations were mixed with computer models that simulated water and energy cycles to produce time-varying maps of water distributions at different depths, including surface soil moisture, root soil moisture, and shallow groundwater, which are distributed in the form of weekly global maps.
As the global population continues to grow, climate change will lead to hotter and drier areas, and a clearer understanding of groundwater around the world will become an important tool for managing water security.
Professor Brain Wardlow, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said: “Drought is really a key topic … There are many predictions about climate and climate change. The focus is on getting more relevant, accurate and timely drought information, whether it’s soil moisture, crop health, groundwater, water flow — all at the heart of grace’s mission. These types of tools are absolutely critical to help us cope with and offset some of the expected impacts — whether from population growth, climate change or just increasing water consumption in general. “
The researchers also used the data to develop a new method of groundwater prediction for the United States for one month to three months.