FRESNO — NASA scientists have begun deploying satellites and other advanced technology to help California water officials assess the state’s record drought and better manage it, officials said Tuesday.
The California Department of Water Resources has partnered with NASA to use the space agency’s satellite data and other airborne technology to better assess the snowpack, ground water levels and predict storms.
Jeanine Jones of the state’s Department of Water Resources together with NASA scientists announced the partnership in a Sacramento news briefing, saying that satellite images will help more accurately measure the number of fields farmers have chosen not to plant and where land is sinking because of excessive water pumping.
“We value the partnership with NASA and the ability of their remote sensing resources to integrate data over large spatial scales,” Jones said.
Gov. Jerry Brown directed state officials to form such partnerships as part of his drought emergency declaration last month.
NASA geologist Tom Farr said that bringing together all types of research and modern technology like pieces of a puzzle may help those in charge of managing the state’s water supply avoids deficit water years like this.
“We’re on the verge of being able to put all these measurements together and start looking at the concept of closing the water budget of California,” he said.
Projects NASA is advancing include measuring so-called “atmospheric rivers” to better predict global storm systems farther in advance so rain can be captured in California reservoirs. Satellite images that show the amount of land farmers have chosen not to plant in a drought will arm officials in Sacramento with information about where to open food banks for farm workers.
Satellites technology will help officials identify levees that are prone to break with high volumes of water, scientists said.