Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

ESA's water mission keeps tabs on dry spring soils
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) May 13, 2011

A farmer showing the soil of a beet field hit by drought this April in the northern French village of Saint-Omer. Credits: France 24

Western Europe's exceptionally dry spring is clear to see in maps generated using data from SMOS. While these maps offer an interesting view of the stark difference in soil moisture compared to a year ago, the data are also important for agricultural and hydrological applications.

ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission has been orbiting Earth for 18 months now, making global observations of the moisture held in the top layers of soil and salt in the surface waters of the oceans.

These data are much-needed for a better understanding of the water cycle and, in particular, the exchange processes between Earth's surface and the atmosphere.

Although soil holds only a small percentage of Earth's total water budget, it plays an important role in the water cycle. Soil moisture is crucial for regulating water and energy exchanges between the land and the atmosphere.

As a variable in the weather and climate system, data on soil moisture are used by hydrologists, soil scientists, meteorologists and ecologists. Since the amount of water present in soil dictates plant growth and crop yield, these data can also be used for applications areas such as agriculture.

For many of us, the unusually dry and warm weather that western Europe has been experiencing this spring is to be enjoyed. However, the drought is also causing serious problems for farmers and those managing water resources. In addition, dry earth and vegetation is posing a risk of forest fire.

Local authorities in some countries, such as France, the Netherlands and the UK, have introduced restrictions on crop irrigation. Other responses to the dry weather have included the Swiss canton of Zurich removing trout from the river Toess before their habitat dried up and the Dutch banning barbecues over Easter in the eastern part of the country.

The maps of France, generated by CESBIO using SMOS data, show a clear difference between April 2010 and April 2011 in the amount of moisture present in the soils. The blue and green colours represent wetter and the yellows show drier surfaces.

Prior to the launch of SMOS, there were relatively few global datasets on soil moisture. However, now the mission is filling this gap, along with valuable datasets on ocean salinity.

Soil moisture is a critical component in temperature, humidity and precipitation forecasts and the objective of the SMOS mission is to provide a global image of surface-soil moisture every three days. These data, together with numerical modelling techniques, result in estimates of soil-water content down a depth of one to two metres.

This layer is known as the 'root zone', which is the reservoir from which plants can extract water and eventually release it to the atmosphere through their leaves by the processes of transpiration.

This estimation of soil moisture in the root zone is valuable not only for farmers growing crops, but also vital for improving short- and medium-term meteorological forecasting.


Related Links
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Mississippi Flooding Captured by NASA Satellites
Greenbel MD (SPX) May 12, 2011
The Mississippi River reached nearly 48 feet in Memphis, Tenn., on May 10, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It was the highest water level for Memphis since 1937. Several of NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites have been gathering data on the current Mississippi flooding as well as floods worldwide. The progress of the floodwaters can be tracked in a series of satellit ... read more

Earth's Nearest Neighbor Within Reach

Space Adventures proposes modified Soyuz TMA for Lunar tourists

BRP To Contribute To Canadian Moon And Mars Exploration Programs

Naveen Jain Co-Founder And Chairman Of Moon Express

Mars Express Sees Deep Fractures on Mars

Opportunity Images Small Craters

Exploring Rio Tinto Eurobotically

NASA Orbiter Reveals Big Changes in Mars' Atmosphere

Putting the Common Housefly onto the dinner plate

JPL Facility has Built Famed Spacecraft for 50 Years

Texas Space Alliance Celebrates New Space "Tourism" Law

AFIT education paves way to space

Top Chinese scientists honored with naming of minor planets

China sees smooth preparation for launch of unmanned module

China to attempt first space rendezvous

Countdown begins for Chineses space station program

The Sabatier System: Producing Water on the ISS

Andrews Space Delivers Cargo Module Power Unit for Orbital's Cygnus Spacecraft

ISS orbit to be readjusted for Soyuz TMA-20 return

Soyuz is in the launch zone at Europe's Spaceport

ST-2's installation on SYLDA marks the start of final payload integration for Ariane 5's next mission

Arianespace to launch ABS-2 in 2013

GSAT-8 put through its paces

Ariane Ariane 5 enjoys second successful launch for 2011

Flipping Hot Jupiters

What a scorcher: 'Hot Jupiter' puzzle explained

An Earth as Dense as Lead

Astronomers unveil portrait of 'super-exotic super-Earth'

Lessening the Dangers of Radiation

US judge sides with Kodak in Apple patent dispute

Silver cycle: New evidence for natural synthesis of silver nanoparticles

NIST super-stable laser shines in minivan experiment

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement