In addition to the known desert regions of the world there are an increasing number of areas in which the risk of desertification is growing. In these areas prediction techniques are of crucial importance to planning and aid authorities.
Water mission boosts food security
21 May 2014
ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission has gone beyond its original scientific brief of delivering critical information for understanding the water cycle - this versatile satellite is now being used to predict drought and improve crop yield in regions prone to famine.
The US Department of Agriculture use satellite images and soil moisture data to help identify abnormal weather that may affect the production and yield of crops. Using this information, they publish monthly estimates of world production, supply and distribution.
As well as offering traders and commodity markets a source of unbiased information, these estimates provide decision-makers with critical information for countries that may need food aid as a result of severe droughts.
Identifying when and where there may be a risk of famine involves measuring soil moisture in the 'root-zone' during the growing season, and detecting the onset and severity of drought.
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