Water is one of the vital element for sustaining life on the planet. Despite the abundant presence, fresh water is available in minimal quantity. Due to the growing population in environmentally sensitive areas the world’s new water supply is critically stressed. Water management acts as a solution, but it requires diverse, accurate data promptly. Collection of data by conventional means may prove unfruitful, costly and resource intensive. But today firms are leveraging earth observation technologies such as satellite-based monitoring. This method is proven to be very useful covering large and remote areas with systematic, repetitive data captures.
Achieving water security and increased resilience to hydrological extremes needs a sound understanding of water resources dynamics. This knowledge can only be based on data and observations, and it is the foundation for managing water optimally and efficiently in economic and social terms, as well as with regard for environmental impacts and downstream users. Satellite remote sensing is increasingly being used as a complementary source of information. Satellite‐based sensors are now capable of making direct and indirect measurements of nearly all components of the hydrological cycle including precipitation, evaporation, lake and river levels, surface water, soil moisture, snow, and total water storage. Satellite remote sensing also represents a critical source of information in regions with limited networks and where information on hydrologic conditions is not accessible.
Landsat satellites and SPOT satellites are used for water-related applications, but the introduction of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) based satellites have revolutionized the work in water mapping and management. Accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEM) are being developed to assist in determining water flows and flooding potential. NASA is conducting an exciting water management experiment named GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a pair of satellites which collects data to determine the surface mass, total water storage and derived variables.
Satellite remote sensing plays a crucial role in water resources management with current and future advances promising to transform the field and support sustainable development even more in years to come.
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