Earth  ID: 4806

GRACE Data Assimilation and GEOS-5 Forecasts

NASA researchers have developed new satellite-based, weekly global maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions and one to three-month U.S. forecasts of each product. While maps of current dry/wet conditions for the United States have been available since 2012, this is the first time they have been available globally.

Both the global maps and the U.S. forecasts use data from NASA and German Research Center for Geosciences’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On (GRACE-FO) satellites, a pair of spacecraft that detect the movement of water on Earth based on variations of Earth’s gravity field. GRACE-FO succeeds the highly successful GRACE satellites, which ended their mission in 2017 after 15 years of operation. With the global expansion of the product, and the addition of U.S. forecasts, the GRACE-FO data are filling in key gaps for understanding the full picture of wet and dry conditions that can lead to drought.

The satellite-based observations of changes in water distribution are integrated with other data within a computer model that simulates the water and energy cycles. The model then produces, among other outputs, time-varying maps of the distribution of water at three depths: surface soil moisture, root zone soil moisture (roughly the top three feet of soil), and shallow groundwater. The maps have a resolution of 1/8th degree of latitude, or about 8.5 miles, providing continuous data on moisture and groundwater conditions across the landscape.

The new forecast product that projects dry and wet conditions 30, 60, and 90 days out for the lower 48 United States uses GRACE-FO data to help set the current conditions. Then the model runs forward in time using the Goddard Earth Observing System, Version 5 seasonal weather forecast model as input. The researchers found that including the GRACE-FO data made the resulting soil moisture and groundwater forecasts more accurate.

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Visualization Credits

Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Visualizer
Matthew Rodell (NASA/GSFC): Lead Scientist
Kathryn Mersmann (USRA): Lead Producer
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET): Producer
Hiroko Kato Beaudoing (University of Maryland): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).

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Data Used:
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Blue Marble: Next Generation
Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)/Terrestrial Water Storage Anomaly
Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow-On/Terrestrial Water Storage Anomaly
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

DLESE >> Agricultural science
DLESE >> Soil science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Ground Water
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Agriculture >> Soils >> Soil Moisture/Water Content
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Terrestrial Hydrosphere >> Ground Water >> Water Table

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version