Featured Missions & Projects - Hydrological Sciences (617)
Aqua (Latin for water) is a NASA satellite mission designed to collect information about Earth's water cycle. Aqua's six instruments collect a variety of global data on ocean evaporation, atmospheric water vapor, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables that Aqua measures include radiative energy fluxes; aerosols; vegetation cover on the land; phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans; and air, land, and water temperatures. Aqua was launched on May 4, 2002.
The GPM mission is one of the next generation of satellite-based Earth science missions that will study global precipitation (rain, snow, ice). GPM Constellation is a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other international partners. Building upon the success of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), it will initiate the measurement of global precipitation, a key climate factor. Its science objectives are: to improve ongoing efforts to predict climate by providing near-global measurement of precipitation, its distribution, and physical processes; to improve the accuracy of weather and precipitation forecasts through more accurate measurement of rain rates and latent heating; and to provide more frequent and complete sampling of the Earth's precipitation.
NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions – TRMM and GPM – provide advanced information on rain and snow characteristics and detailed three-dimensional knowledge of precipitation structure within the atmosphere, which help scientists study and understand Earth's water cycle, weather and climate.
SMAP will provide global observations of soil moisture and freeze/thaw state, together termed the hydrosphere state. SMAP hydrosphere state measurements will be used to enhance understanding of the processes that link the water, energy and carbon cycles, and to extend the capability of weather and climate prediction models. SMAP data will be used to quantify net carbon flux in boreal landscapes and to develop improved flood and drought prediction capabilities.
SMAP has been recommended by the National Research Council (NRC) Earth Science Decadal Survey Panel for launch in the 2010-2013 time frame.
The land-surface component of the hydrological cycle is fundamental to the overall functioning of the atmospheric and climate processes. The characterization of the spatial and temporal variability of water and energy cycles is critical to improve our understanding of the land-surface-atmosphere interaction and the impact of land-surface processes on climate extremes. Because the accurate knowledge of these processes and their variability is important for climate predictions, most Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) centers have incorporated land-surface schemes in their models. However, errors in the NWP forcing accumulate in the surface and energy stores, leading to incorrect surface water and energy partitioning and related processes.
A methodology under development here is to implement a Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS), which consists of land-surface models (uncoupled from an atmospheric model) forced with observations, and thus not affected by NWP forcing biases.
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