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How much water is used for irrigation?

11 September 2018

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Feeding a growing global population is a major concern, but efforts to grow more food will place an added burden on precious supplies of freshwater. New research shows how measurements of soil moisture from space could be used to understand how much water is used for agriculture and potentially help farmers manage consumption.

It has been estimated that irrigation already consumes roughly 70% of the world's freshwater – possibly the biggest way humans interrupt the water cycle.

An increasing demand for food along with climate change will undoubtedly push this consumption rate even higher.

From the vantage of space, satellites could offer a solution to providing this information globally.

A paper published recently explores a new approach for quantifying irrigation by using soil-moisture observations from satellites such as ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission.

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Spotlight on sea-level rise

25 September 2018

Scientists are gathering in the Azores this week to share findings on how satellite has revealed changes in the height of the sea, ice, inland bodies of water and more.

Regional sea-level trends

Of concern to all is the fact that global sea level has not only been rising steadily over the last 25 years, but recently it is rising at a much faster rate.