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Nearly four decades of soil moisture data now available

03 November 2017

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A new, long-term and global dataset of soil moisture measurements from space has been released to help us better understand the water cycle and climate, monitor agriculture and manage our water resources.

The amount of water held in global soils makes up only about 0.001% of the total water found on Earth, but still plays a crucial role in regulating plant growth, our weather and climate.

This is because soil moisture is a key variable controlling the exchange of water and energy between the land and the atmosphere: dry soil emits little or no moisture to the atmosphere and heats up more strongly during a hot day, thus intensifying heatwaves. Wet soils, on the other hand, have a cooling effect on the atmosphere.

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More of Africa scarred by fires than thought

4 February 2019

Wildfires can cause devastation and are also to blame for more than a quarter of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Satellites play a key role in mapping landscape scarred by fire – but the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission has revealed that there are more fires than previously thought.

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