News Excerpt
NASA researchers have developed new satellite-based, global maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions.

About Global Map
•    Global map provides information about groundwater and soil moisture, which are crucial for irrigation purposes and crop growth.
•    Researchers made time-varying maps providing continuous data on moisture and groundwater conditions across the landscape. The map depicts distribution of water at three depths:-
o    Surface soil moisture
o    Root zone soil moisture (roughly the top three feet of soil),
o    Shallow groundwater.
•    The weekly updated map is prepared through the satellite-based observations of changes in water level and distribution. These are integrated and compared with data within a computer model that simulates the real inputs, and based on that the weekly map is produced.

The need to constantly monitor groundwater and soil moisture is important since both acts as useful indicators for predicting drought conditions.
    Draught Map: The need for global maps was important as there was limited availability of drought maps. Such map would help to minimize crop losses due to lack of moisture especially in the Rain-fed agricultural region. The weekly availability of data on these indicators would help the agricultural sector in getting a boost.
    Pro-active prediction: The precise availability of moisture would have significant impact on Crop Yield by predicting draught to minimize losses, assured crop cycle and minimal losses due to moisture deficiency. By considering the weekly data, pro-active alternatives can be carried out in order to assure less impact on crop.
    Monitoring the wetness of the soil and groundwater level is essential for managing agricultural crops and predicting their yields. Soil moisture gives information about the water available to plant roots. Groundwater is often the source of water for crop irrigation. It also sustains streams during dry periods and is a useful indicator of extended drought.
    The time varying availability of moisture (i.e. either in Soil or groundwater) provides short term as well as long term irrigation capacity. Best suited crop can be planned as this model predicts the Root zonal soil moisture availability as well.

    Surface-based observations are too sparse to capture the full picture of wetness and dryness across the landscape and prone to daily as well as seasonal changes.
    However, the new global map data is not solely based on surface observation data set. In addition to that it also provides root zone and shallow water groundwater details as well. Hence, it can predict reliable ‘drought like’ situations.
    Droughts can be complex, both in timing and extent. At the surface, soil moisture changes rapidly with weather conditions. The moisture in the root zone changes a little slower but is still very responsive to weather. Lagging behind both is groundwater, since it is insulated from changes in the weather. But for longer-term outlooks on drought severity—or, conversely, flood risk in low-lying areas—groundwater is the metric to watch.

The data available through this project would fill prevailing gaps in understanding the full picture of wet and dry conditions that can lead to drought. These tools are absolutely critical to address and offset some of the impacts anticipated, whether it is from population growth, climate change or just increased water consumption in general.

Types of Draughts, Groundwater contamination, draught resistant crops