Land cover information is important for many applications like flood modeling, observation of agricultural drought, climate change modeling, and monitoring of environmental changes including vegetation phenology, flooding, fire occurrence, and monitoring of carbon emission due to deforestation and forest degradation.
Soil moisture data can be used for drought prediction and to improve flood forecasts. Data sets derived from satellite sensors are freely available in near real time. The image archives on soil moisture go back to the late 1970s.
The United States has announced that it will make high-resolution topographic data available globally in 2015. Previously, the data generated from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) in 2000 was only available in the US.
Continuing progress in studies and advancing in the area of drought monitoring in agricultural areas, the Remote Sensing Group of the Center for Research and Development in Geographic Information of IGAC (CIAF) in Colombia, has been analyzing time series of the Normalized Differenced Vegetation Index (NDVI) based on MODIS data obtained by NASA's Terra
At present no ground or satellite based global network infrastructure exists for monitoring soil moisture on a local level. The Soil Moisture Active Passive SMAP satellite mission to be launched in October 2014 as part of NASA’s fall launch schedule will collect local data agriculture and water managers needed globally.