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NASA’S orbiting satellite observatory will produce global maps of soil moisture.

Jim Novak from Turf Producers International (TPI) in the United States reports on the following in their recent TPI Turf News March/April 2015.

Imagine what it would mean if scientists could literally measure the amount of moisture in the top 5 cm of soil worldwide not from the ground but from space. What if they could provide early warning systems of anticipated droughts long before they would happen, or if they could better forecast weather patterns and trends with enhanced accuracy.

Jim reports that this will come to pass near the end of January when NASA launches an orbiting observatory in a polar orbit around the Earth that will, believe it or not measure the amount of water in the top layer of soil everywhere on the planet surface. The launch was completed successfully in January 31, 2015. The satellite called “SMAP” which stands the Soil Moisture Active and Passive, will help to measure and understand how freshwater cycles over the earth’s land services in the form of soil moisture. The mission will produce the most accurate, highest resolution global maps ever obtained from space of the moisture present in the top layer of earth soils. It also will detect and map whether the ground is frozen or thawed. This data will be used to enhance scientists’ understanding of the processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.

SMAP is designed to measure soil moisture over a three-year period, every 2-3 days. This permits changes, around the world, to be observed over timescales ranging from major storms to repeated measurements changes over the seasons. SMAP will help improve the predictive capability of weather and climate models.

Just consider what this might mean to the turf industry with regards to moisture monitoring and weather forecasting in years to come with the speed of technology uptake occurring.


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