A U.S. space mission that launched Dec. 15 will map the Earth’s water and collect data to help manage climate change. The mission will “conduct a comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers for the first time.”
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite when it launches from Vandenburg U.S. Space Force Base about 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles. SWOT will share data about water levels with other satellites.
This mission is different from previous water missions in the following three ways:
- Its global reach (which will especially help with assessing freshwater resources and ocean coastlines)
- Its ability to detect small-scale but crucial ocean drivers at a resolution of less than 100 kilometers (62 miles)
- The applications and data that will flow from the mission.
The aim of the mission is to provide scientists with an “unprecedented view” of the Earth’s water levels and provide a new perspective on climate change within a few months of its launch.
SWOT will provide community-focused data to help individual regions address climate change in their area.
“SWOT is going to provide really relevant information for all these communities, all these people living in these different places and allow us to make measurements that ultimately improve their lives and livelihoods,” said Benjamin Hamlington, research scientist in the sea level and ice group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a Dec. 13 briefing.
As you can read on the drought page on DrinkTap, “Global climate change may cause some areas to receive less rain while others receive more. In addition, climate change may impact the intensity of rainfall, so that more rain falls over a shorter period of time. Climate change could also impact drought by increasing temperature, which could increase demand and evaporation.”
Maybe data from a fresh perspective will help us arrive at solutions to an important global situation.
Image by NASA/Handout via REUTERS