May 19, 2017
Tracking critical resource issues from space is getting more efficient, as new software comes online to interpret all the data being collected. NASA is working on a program called "EcoStress," which is designed to measure global surface temperatures to better understand plant-water dynamics and future ecosystem changes related to climate. And a University of Idaho professor is part of the program.
Richard G. Allen, professor, water resources, has long worked to use satellite imagery to track irrigation water use on Earth. Allen, who is based at UI's Kimberly Research and Extension Center, received a $155,000 grant from NASA in 2016 to develop software to estimate water consumption on Earth as part of the EcoStress mission.
In 2009, Allen and his colleagues at the Idaho Department of Water Resources were recognized for developing the satellite-based system Metric, which tracks irrigation water consumption by measuring how much water evaporates and how much is released by plants.
Since then, Allen has worked with Google engineers and colleagues in other states to advance space-based water monitoring on Earth.
For the ISS mission, the effort is aimed to better identify critical water stress points in key areas on the planet that may be affected most by climate change. The effort will also work to better understand how and when plants need water. And there will be work to measured ag water use throughout the U.S. to improve drought monitoring.
The mission is set to launch in 2020 and will operate on the station for two years.
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