Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extreme Weather Monitoring Boosted By Space Sensor

Date:
July 23, 2007
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
The first soil moisture maps with a spatial resolution of one km are available online for the entire southern African subcontinent. As soil moisture plays an important role in the global water cycle, these maps, based on data from ESA's Envisat satellite, will lead to better weather and extreme-event forecasting, such as floods and droughts.

The image shows the monthly average soil moisture percentage values, based on data from Envisat's ASAR instrument and relative to the local maximum and minimum.
Credit: TU Vienna - IPF

The first soil moisture maps with a spatial resolution of one km are available online for the entire southern African subcontinent. As soil moisture plays an important role in the global water cycle, these maps, based on data from ESA’s Envisat satellite, will lead to better weather and extreme-event forecasting, such as floods and droughts.

"Predicting when and where floods are likely to happen is becoming more and more important," Geoff Pegram of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, said. "Although we cannot prevent floods, we can anticipate them and hopefully get people out of the way. This brings hydrology into the 21st century and makes life better for people."

Soil moisture is the water stored in the soil within reach of plants. When there is too little soil moisture, rain-fed crops and natural vegetation wilt. When there is too much soil moisture, the risk of flooding, flash floods and erosion increase.

Despite its importance for agricultural planning and weather forecasting, there has been a lack of soil moisture information in Africa because of the high costs of in-situ measurement networks. In addition, unlike satellite observations, point-based measurements are often not sufficient to provide an overall picture over large areas that may be effectively used in models.

The ESA-backed SHARE (Soil Moisture for Hydrometeorological Applications in the Southern African Development Community Region) project, funded through the ESA’s Data User Element, is the first to demonstrate that spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments can deliver soil moisture data of high spatial (one km) and temporal (less than one week) resolution.

The SHARE project team combines expertise in soil moisture remote sensing from Vienna University of Technology with specialists in hydro-meteorological applications from University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.

"I think it is really a breakthrough. Envisat is the first satellite to provide us with the good temporal coverage that we needed for the algorithm and the methods to be successful," Wolfgang Wagner of the Vienna University of Technology said. "Chinese scientists have already used our data to initialise weather forecasts and demonstrated they could better predict the location and intensity of a precipitation event, which resulted in a flood. Soil moisture is such an important variable that it influences vegetation, soil, run-off and weather, affecting the lives of us all."

SHARE was one of the projects initiated under ESA’s TIGER initiative, launched in 2002 to assist African countries to overcome water-related problems and to bridge Africa's water information gap using satellite data. To date, more than 200 African water basin authorities, universities and other organisations have become involved in TIGER projects across the continent.

The TIGER initiative is implemented in three stages - research, pre-operational and operational. The research stage encourages water authorities in Africa to undertake research initiatives and supports them with Earth observation (EO) data, training and tools. The pre-operational stage aims to demonstrate tailored EO-based services and systems for collecting water-related information. The operational stage is aimed at transferring the leadership of the projects to African water authorities.

SHARE concluded its pre-operational stage last month and will now seek funding and support from African organisations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Extreme Weather Monitoring Boosted By Space Sensor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070720205342.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2007, July 23). Extreme Weather Monitoring Boosted By Space Sensor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070720205342.htm
European Space Agency. "Extreme Weather Monitoring Boosted By Space Sensor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070720205342.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
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