NASA Satellites reveal major shifts in global freshwater

In a first, scientists have discovered that the Earth’s wet land areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier due to various factors, including human water management, climate change and natural cycles. The study was published on May 16, 2018 in the journal Nature.

Freshwater is found in lakes, rivers, soil, snow, groundwater and ice. On land, freshwater is one of the most essential Earth’s resources for drinking water and agriculture. The loss of freshwater from the ice sheets at the poles attributed to the climate change and indicates the rise in sea level. Though the water loss in some regions like the melting ice sheets and alpine glaciers is clearly driven by warming climate, however, it may take more time and data to determine the driving forces behind other patterns of freshwater change.

The next generation of twin satellites called GRACE Follow-On (GRACE FO) is scheduled to be launched into the orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 22, 2018. GRACE-FO will be launched to continue the original GRACE mission’s legacy of tracking fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field in order to detect changes in mass, including the mass of ice sheets and aquifers. GRACE-FO mission would be launched by NASA along with the German Research Centre for Geosciences. Following this, NASA will be launching the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which will use a highly advanced laser instrument to measure the changing elevation of ice around the world.

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