NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission has begun science operations. SMAP investigates global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. This information help scientist understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles. In addition, map global soil moisture can help to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts.
Scientists of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, have found that the south-west and the central plains of the United States of America could face super-droughts in the future.
The study published in the journal Science Advances compares earlier droughts with climate simulations for the coming decades. The team reconstructed past climate conditions and compared these with 17 climate models and soil moisture assessments.
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.
Massive floods have heavily affected regions in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and other European countries over the past days taking at least five human lives and causing damages of a yet undetermined extent. In order to better prepare for such floods in the future, satellites such as ESA's SMOS could help to improve the accuracy of flood prediction by measuring the soil moisture.