Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Helping To Understand Water Flow In The West

Date:
September 5, 2003
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA and partnering agencies are going to provide United States Bureau of Reclamation water resource managers with high resolution satellite data, allowing them to analyze up-to-date water-related information over large areas all at once.

To do their jobs, water resource managers in the Columbia River Basin have mostly relied on data from sparsely located ground stations among the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. But now, NASA and partnering agencies are going to provide United States Bureau of Reclamation water resource managers with high resolution satellite data, allowing them to analyze up-to-date water-related information over large areas all at once.

The pilot program is now underway with the Rio Grande and Columbia River basins where water is scarce while demands range from hydropower, to farming, fishing, boating and protecting endangered species. Water resource managers in these areas grapple with the big money stakes of distributing a finite amount of water to many groups. NASA satellite data offer to fill the data gaps in mountainous and drought-ridden terrain, and new computer models let users quickly process that data.

Land Surface Models (LSMs) from NASA, other agencies and universities, and NASA satellite data can be used to determine snowpack, amounts of soil moisture, and the loss of water into the atmosphere from plants and the soil, a process known as evapotranspiration. Understanding these variables in the water cycle is a key to managing water in such resource-limited areas.

"The latest satellites provide so much up-to-date and wide-ranging data, which we can use in the models to monitor and better understand what is happening with the water cycle in these areas," said Kristi Arsenault, research associate for the Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS) team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and Research Associate at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

"These efforts are designed to improve the efficiency of the analysis and prediction of water supply and demand using the emerging technologies of the Land Data Assimilation System," said Dr. Dave Matthews, manager of the River Systems and Meteorology Group of the Technical Services Center, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Computer models, known as decision support systems, that factor in ecological, human, and legal restrictions are vital to managing and allocating water, Matthews added. These systems will incorporate NASA satellite and model data.

NASA's tools may be of vital use in the Rio Grande and Columbia River basins where the disparate and numerous water demands have enormous economic implications. In the Rio Grande Basin, for example, water managers dole out water to farmers so they can irrigate their land. At the same time, under the Endangered Species Act, states are required by law to maintain river water levels to protect the habitat of the endangered silvery minnow. A recent seven-year drought has exacerbated these demands.

Similarly, the Columbia River Basin provides water for the Coulee Dam, the largest concrete dam in North America, and a means for controlling floods. This hydroelectric dam is the third largest producer of electricity in the world. At the same time, the basin is a source of water for a billion dollar agricultural area.

To help make big decisions of allocating water, NASA's special technologies can provide a unique perspective from space. For example, satellites can classify vegetation, a task that is essential to calculating evapotranspiration, which accounts for up to 60 percent of water loss into the air in a region like the Rio Grande Basin. Some managers have been relying on vegetation maps that dated back to 1993, in areas where wild-lands, crops and farming practices are subject to change.

Landsat data can provide highly detailed spatial information, but these images may only be available once a month, and are very expensive. The newer technologies of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites provides more frequent passes and day-to-day and week-to-week changes in vegetation production. In addition, other variables of interest, like snow cover and land surface temperatures, are updated more regularly by MODIS, which can aid in identifying areas with potential flooding and help with the daily management of the water resources.

LDAS has also begun to evaluate soil moisture data from NASA's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) aboard the Aqua satellite and 3-hour rainfall estimates from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. All this data helps determine how much water is being absorbed into the ground, versus how much is evaporating into the atmosphere. These observations will then be assimilated into Land Surface Models so that water managers can assess flood risks and other factors and act accordingly in a timely manner.

Reclamation brings water to more than 31 million people and provides one out of five Western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland.

One mission of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is to expand and accelerate the realization of economic and societal benefits from Earth science information and technology.

###

For more information and images on the Internet, visit: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/0717watermgr.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Helping To Understand Water Flow In The West." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072949.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2003, September 5). NASA Helping To Understand Water Flow In The West. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072949.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Helping To Understand Water Flow In The West." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905072949.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins