News Picks : Satellite gravity measurements could be used to predict terrestrial flooding
Science: When the ground becomes saturated with water, the risk for flooding increases. Now researchers have shown that the strength of Earth’s gravity in the area also increases. They studied data collected by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites in the months preceding the catastrophic 2011 flooding on the Missouri River and found that the gravity signal improved model forecasts more than measures of snowmelt and soil wetness. However, GRACE’s resolution is too low and the time it takes to retrieve and process the data is too long to make such measurements useful in current flood prediction efforts. The researchers hope to improve on that capability when a GRACE follow-on mission is launched in 2017.