Scientists use satellites to measure vital underground water resources

ScienceDaily | 7/19/2018 | Staff
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With the hope of providing water resource managers with better tools to help keep aquifers healthy, a team of scientists from ASU and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are using the latest space technology to look underneath Earth's surface to measure this precious natural resource.

They've focused their efforts on one of the world's largest aquifer systems, located in California's Central Valley, measuring both its groundwater volume and its storage capacity. The results of their most recent findings in this ground breaking study have been recently published in Water Resources Research.

California - Central - Valley - Hub - Area

California's Central Valley is a major agricultural hub covering an area of about 20,000 square miles. It produces more than 25 percent of U.S. agriculture, at an estimated value of $17 billion per year.

Beyond agricultural crops, the Central Valley aquifer system provides necessary water for people and wetlands, supplying about 20 percent of the overall U.S. groundwater demand. With a combination of population increases and drought, this aquifer is ranked one of the most stressed aquifer systems in the world.

Studies - Water - Resources - Drought - Low-resolution

While past studies on water resources and drought have focused mainly on low-resolution or local scale measurements of groundwater dynamics, the research team for this study, which includes ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration scientists Chandrakanta Ojha, Manoochehr Shirzaei, and Susanna Werth, with Donald Argus and Thomas Farr from JPL, went an even more high-tech route.

They used the data collection features of several satellite-based Earth remote sensing techniques to get a more consistent and higher resolution view of California's Central Valley aquifer system than has ever been done before.

Co-author - Werth - Appointment - ASU - School

"Ironically," says co-author Werth, who also has a joint appointment at the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, "we had to go several hundreds of miles up into space to see what was going on under the surface of our planet."

Using...
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