Water cycle insights from Smos ESA Earth Explorer

There’s an interesting water-related science story on BBC News this morning. ESA‘s Smos satellite has been launched. If all goes well in the next stages of preparing its radio astronomy-related technology for its working life in space, Smos should provide measurements of soil moisture and ocean salinity to improve our understanding of the water cycle worldwide.

The news caught my eye because such improved understanding should help climate change research efforts and may contribute to designing better future mitigation and adaptation strategies around the world. Without a thorough global understanding of how water moves around the hydrological cycle human-made impacts and attempts to assuage them are of course harder to register and attribute. There’s also a strong possibility that the data from Smos will help to improve the accuracy and scope of climate change projections and scenarios, such as the UKCIP ones we are using in an EPSRC funded project on community resilience to extreme weather events (CREW).

In the future the Earth Explorers series of satellites is planned to include Cryosat-2 to map ice cover, Aeolus for laser-based wind measurement and EarthCARE to explore clouds.

All three look set to contribute to more robust water-related and climate change sciences. Here at Waterstink we’ll be keeping an eye out for any early, exciting findings from these initiatives as they are announced.

Update (16/11/2016): Featured image added from this source.

Duncan Thomas

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