Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellite data will be essential to future of groundwater, flood and drought management

Date:
June 13, 2013
Source:
UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling
Summary:
New satellite imagery reveals that several areas across the US are all but certain to suffer water-related catastrophes, including extreme flooding, drought and groundwater depletion. A new report underscores the urgent need to address these current and rapidly emerging water issues at the national scale in the U.S.

New satellite imagery reveals that several areas across the United States are all but certain to suffer water-related catastrophes, including extreme flooding, drought and groundwater depletion. The paper, to be published in Science this Friday, June 14, underscores the urgent need to address these current and rapidly emerging water issues at the national scale.

"We don't recognize the dire water situation that we face here in the United States," said lead author Jay Famiglietti, a professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, and Director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM). Since its launch in 2002, Famiglietti and co-author Matt Rodell, Chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, have been using data from the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changing freshwater availability all over the world.

"Worldwide, groundwater supplies about half of all drinking water, and it is also hugely important for agriculture, yet without GRACE we would have no routine, global measurements of changes in groundwater availability," said Rodell. "Other satellites can't do it, and ground-based monitoring is inadequate."

The report, entitled Water in the Balance, draws attention to water management as a national, rather than just a regional or statewide problem. The GRACE mission is able to monitor monthly water storage changes within river basins and aquifers that are 200,000 km2 or larger in area, and, according to Famiglietti and Rodell, can contribute to water management at regional and national scales, and to international policy discussions as well.

Using GRACE data, the researchers were able to identify several water 'hotspots' in the United States, including its key food producing regions in 1) California's Central Valley, and 2) the southern High Plains aquifer; a broad swath of the southeastern U. S. that has been plagued by persistent drought, including 3) Houston, Texas, 4) Alabama, and 5) the Mid-Atlantic region; and 6) the flood-prone upper Missouri River basin. They also noted that since 2003, the wetter, northern half of the U.S. has become wetter, while the drier, southern half has become drier.

According to Famiglietti and Rodell, without coordinated and proactive management, the aquifers supplying the Central Valley and the southern High Plains with water for irrigation will deplete their groundwater reserves, perhaps within decades, putting the nation's food supply at considerable risk. Meanwhile, if sufficient measures are not taken, the upper Missouri River basin will experience extensive flood damage. The authors state that using GRACE, groundwater supplies can now be better managed, while the lead-time for flood and drought predictions could be substantially increased, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars and countless lives in the process.

"GRACE data provide new insights into regions in the U.S. and around the world where water issues have already approached the crisis stage. Their potential for game-changing contributions to regional water management is just beginning to be realized," says Famiglietti, who believes that maps like his and Rodell's make a strong case for immediate action, and ultimately, for a comprehensive, national water policy in the United States.

The authors argue for greater investment to speed current GRACE data processing to ensure its availability for seasonal flood and drought forecasting, and for future gravity missions that can help water management even more than at present.

"A future mission that could monitor water storage changes every week or two, rather than on a monthly basis, and for river basins and aquifers that are tens of thousands of square kilometers, rather than hundreds, would be ideal," notes Rodell.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. S. Famiglietti, M. Rodell. Water in the Balance. Science, 2013; 340 (6138): 1300 DOI: 10.1126/science.1236460

Cite This Page:

UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling. "Satellite data will be essential to future of groundwater, flood and drought management." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142822.htm>.
UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling. (2013, June 13). Satellite data will be essential to future of groundwater, flood and drought management. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142822.htm
UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling. "Satellite data will be essential to future of groundwater, flood and drought management." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613142822.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
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