Landsat: A Space Age Water Gauge

  • Released Monday, September 14, 2009

Agriculture consumes a great deal of water. As demand for water increases, the pressure's on to make sure every drop counts.

Water specialists Rick Allen, Bill Kramber and Tony Morse have created an innovative satellite-based method that maps agricultural water consumption. The team uses Landsat thermal band data to measure the amount of water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from plants' leaves. Evapotranspiring water absorbs energy, so farm fields consuming more water appear cooler in the thermal band. The Landsat observations provide an objective way for water managers to assess on a field-by-field basis how much water agricultural growers are using. Landsat is a joint program of NASA and the US Geological Survey.

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This page was originally published on Monday, September 14, 2009.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT.


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