APR 01, 2020 2:12 PM PDT

New Global Water Maps & U.S. Drought Forecasts Available to the Public

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Yesterday, NASA’s Global Climate Change team announced that new global groundwater maps and U.S. drought forecasts are available to the public. While this information has been available for the U.S. since 2012, this is the first time that maps of current global wet and dry conditions have been available. The maps are available online through the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

This project was led by Matt Rodell, a hydrologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. In an article from the NASA Earth Science News Team, Rodell states that “The global products are important because there are so few worldwide drought maps out there. 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.”

NASA’s Earth Science News Team reports that the global maps and U.S. forecasts use data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE-FO (follow-on). These satellites detect the movement of water on Earth based on variations in the gravity field. The GRACE satellites operated for 15 years, and GRACE-FO is currently providing data to provide a full picture of conditions that lead to drought. Professor Brian Wardlow, the director of the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies at UNL, considers the data from the satellites critical to obtain “more relevant, more accurate, and more timely drought information.”

The satellite measurements integrated with computer models allow researchers to differentiate surface, root zone, and groundwater. Separating the water into layers enables the prediction of events such as flash floods and anticipated droughts. Each layer responds to changes in water availability at different rates, and having measurements at each layer helps stakeholders prepare as needed. Additionally, the modeling allows scientists to provide global water availability maps and U.S. drought forecast maps for the public. The new forecast maps show conditions projected 30, 60, and 90 days into the future. This information is useful to those needing to prepare for flash droughts and floods, such as those in the agricultural sector.

Sources: NASA Climate Change

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
JUL 29, 2021
Earth & The Environment
US Cattle Lose Genetic Adaptations to Environment
JUL 29, 2021
US Cattle Lose Genetic Adaptations to Environment
Cattle are losing important genetic adaptations to their environment due to a lack of genetic information available to f ...
JUL 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Megadrought Brings Western US Lakes to Record Lows
JUL 30, 2021
Megadrought Brings Western US Lakes to Record Lows
The megadrought affecting the western United States is not letting up, even though the monsoon season has begun. The lat ...
AUG 31, 2021
Microbiology
How Cow Stomachs Might Help Us Reduce Plastic Waste
AUG 31, 2021
How Cow Stomachs Might Help Us Reduce Plastic Waste
Plastic is a long-lasting material that has many uses, which has led to a proliferation of plastic packaging that is pol ...
SEP 28, 2021
Earth & The Environment
How to Save the World's Coral Reefs? Global Reforestation
SEP 28, 2021
How to Save the World's Coral Reefs? Global Reforestation
With recent news of the world's coral supply standing at just 50% of what it was in the 1950s, any strategies for protec ...
OCT 06, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
2021's Nobel Prize in Physics Recognizes Foundational Work in Climate Science
OCT 06, 2021
2021's Nobel Prize in Physics Recognizes Foundational Work in Climate Science
The 2021 lineup for one of the world’s most prestigious awards has been announced, and the medal for physics has b ...
OCT 17, 2021
Microbiology
Harmless Microbes Can be Pressured to Turn Bad
OCT 17, 2021
Harmless Microbes Can be Pressured to Turn Bad
The world is full of microorganisms. Luckily, most pose no threat to us. But some harmless bacteria have the potential t ...
Loading Comments...