Predicting Droughts Months in Advance

Researchers in Australia are in the process of using new space technology to predict droughts and increased brush fire risk close to five months in advance.

A scientific team from The Australian National University (ANU) used the data from multiple satellites to look below the Earth’s surface and measure water with precision. They are able to use the information as it relates to the impacts of drought conditions on the vegetation several months later.

The team used the GRACE Follow-On satellites, which were developed by American, German and Australian scientists.

The team was able to use the research data, combined with computer models simulating the water cycle and plant growth, building a detailed picture of distribution of the water below the surface and the likely impact on vegetation.

This data is used to detect variations in water availability that affect the growth and condition of grazing land, dryland crops and forests, and that can lead to increased fire risk and farming problems.

We have always looked to the sky to predict droughts to limited success. Now we can look down from space to underground for more accuracy.

Check out the original study on Nature Communications

Watch the ANU video on the GRACE Follow-On mission at

Source: ANU, Newswire and Nature Communications


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