Published on The Water Blog

New Ways to Measure Heat on Earth's Surface Could Revolutionize Agricultural Water Management

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World Water Day 2013 LogoYesterday, on the eve of World Water Day, NASA and the United States Geological Survey released the first images from the thermal imaging band of its latest launch of the LANDSAT satellite. The satellite will begin regularly producing data on May of this year. Why does that matter? It is the latest improvement in a technology that, in my opinion, has the power to revolutionize water management around the world.
The minute changes in temperature on the earth's surface that these images reveal can tell us about water use anywhere in the world. They can tell us whether ecosystems are thriving or struggling, they can tell us when crops are stressed, they can tell us if people are taking more water out of the ground than they are supposed to. They are already being used in all these ways. This new technology will help an on-going Bank collaboration with NASA to develop these systems in the Middle East and North Africa

And these initiatives are only the beginning. There is so much potential to do more. Both agronomists and poverty analysts can analyze the yields of individual farmers. The images could be the basis of automated information systems that help farmers irrigate more precisely. They could even help with enforcement of water consumption limits or water trades.

Now with better imaging, we can measure where water goes and how it is used more accurately and unleash the creativity of water management.



Julia Bucknall

Director for Environment and Natural Resources

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