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Helping satellites be right as rain

08 June 2016

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As you read this paragraph, a NASA satellite orbits around planet Earth, gathering data on — of all things — soil moisture. Moisture in the soil acts like a thermostat for the planet. Along with affecting agricultural production, it has a large influence on the weather and climate. Its impact on the planet is so important, NASA has sent a satellite into space to measure it.

As sunlight is absorbed by the Earth, it can do two things for soil moisture. It can evaporate moisture in the soil. Or, if there is no moisture, it can warm the soil surface. This affects the amount of moisture in the air and the amount of heat the soil is absorbing, in turn shifting air patterns, weather, and climate.

Source: American Society of Agronomy

Image credit: M. H. Cosh - The central site of the Marena Oklahoma In Situ Sensor Testbed (MOISST) is located near Stillwater. It is the home to a diverse array of soil moisture monitoring technologies.

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