GPM Applications: Water & Agriculture

Using GPM Data for Water Resources, Agricultural Forecasting & Food Security

Growing human population, increased demand for water and energy, and a changing climate have contributed to concerns of how freshwater resources and food supply and production may be stressed. Both water resource managers and the agricultural community need to know the amount, distribution, timing and onset of seasonal rain and snow to prepare for freshwater shortages and forecast crop yields. Remotely sensed precipitation estimates play a key role in predicting changes in freshwater supply and agricultural forecasting. Specifically, GPM provides advance precipitation measurements on regional and global scales frequently, which allows for a better understanding of precipitation systems, water cycle variability, and freshwater availability. The Water Resources, Agricultural Forecasting and Food Security applications area encourages the use of GPM precipitation data to analyze and forecast changes that affect water resources and its subsequent impact on agricultural productivity.



GPM Data for Decision Making


USAID works to protect river and watershed ecosystems to ensure adequate water quality and a healthy habit to support biodiversity. Credit: Richard Volk/USAID

Water resource managers rely on accurate precipitation measurements to monitor freshwater resources necessary for human activities including public consumption, irrigation, sanitation, mining, livestock and powering industries. GPM provides useful rainfall estimates at regional and global scales as well as frequently to help scientists understand droughts and consequent freshwater availability. Global observation of precipitation from the GPM constellation of satellites will allow scientists to better understand and predict changes in freshwater supply.


Credit: Getty Images

Remotely sensed precipitation estimates play a key role in monitoring and modeling efforts for organizations and companies that track food and water security. In addition to the amount and distribution of seasonal rainfall, the timing of the onset of rainfall is an important variable for early estimation of growing season outcomes like crop yield. With their global coverage, satellites can also observe the results of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and persistent or deficient snow cover that can affect agricultural productivity. In particular, satellite precipitation estimates from GPM, combined with other environmental datasets, are used to determine the extent and availability of surface rainfall over farm and ranchland. These estimates are then used within agricultural forecast models to analyze and predict crop yield.



SERCH LIGHTS tools can give soybean producers the heads up about drought. Credit: USDA photo by Bob Nichols

Climate and weather are significant factors affecting agriculture production around the world. The correlation between crop volumes and weather can result in a successful yield or a financial disaster. As a result, farmers need to be increasingly efficient in their water management practices. GPM precipitation estimates are used by private companies to define extreme precipitation thresholds to support microinsurance, providing farmers with protection against loss of or damage to crops and/or livestock.

Water & Agriculture Featured Resources

IMERG Sees a Dry September
Rainfall was scarce across much of the country in the month of September, pushing the eastern and southern thirds of the country into drought conditions. IMERG, the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM, is a unified satellite precipitation product produced by NASA to estimate surface precipitation over most of the globe.
Using the IMERG Long-term Precipitation Data for Applications
A long precipitation data set like the new GPM IMERG V06 product is valuable for many applications and for decision-making. Accurate and reliable precipitation records are not only crucial to understanding trends and variability but also for water management resources and food security, ecological management, and weather, climate and hydrological forecasting. Here we present a few highlights showcasing how GPM IMERG is helping a variety of end users make decisions that will benefit society for years to come. GPM IMERG Data Used for Wind Energy Map of average precipitation in north-central...
Monsoons: Wet, Dry, Repeat
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Ryan Fitzgibbons This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio The monsoon is a seasonal rain and wind pattern that occurs over South Asia (among other places). Through NASA satellites and models we can see the monsoon patterns like never before. Monsoon rains provide important reservoirs of water that sustain human activities like agriculture and supports the natural environment through replenishment of aquifers. However, too much rainfall routinely causes disasters in the region...
A Tale of Two Extremes: Rainfall Across the US
The United States has seen a tale of two extremes this year, with drenching rains in the eastern half of the country and persistent drought in the west. A new visualization of rainfall data collected from space shows the stark contrast between east and west for the first half of 2015. The accumulated precipitation product visualized here begins on Jan. 1, 2015, and runs through July 16, 2015. This visualization shows the heavy rainfall throughout Northern Texas and across Oklahoma as well as the drought in Southern California. Credits: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio Download...
Using NASA Data to Show How Raindrops Could Save Rupees
Rainwater could save people in India a bucket of money, according to a new study by scientists looking at NASA satellite data. The study, partially funded by NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions, found that collecting rainwater for vegetable irrigation could reduce water bills, increase caloric intake and even provide a second source of income for people in India. The study, published in the June issue of Urban Water Journal, is based on precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which...

Unexpected shocks from natural hazards can affect populations throughout the globe, threatening sustainable development and resilience. However, the impacts of these events, such as extreme precipitation or drought, disproportionately affect the developing world where individuals often are not insured and live and work in conditions that leave them vulnerable to natural disasters. This can lead to significant economic and environmental challenges if preventive measures or mitigating measures are not taken in time. To reduce risks from natural disasters and build climate resilience, decision...

Agriculture in Pakistan is dependent on irrigation from the Indus River. But over the years, these freshwater resources have become scarce. Today, it is one of the world’s most depleted basins. To tackle this, farmers are attempting to predict and track freshwater resources with the help of NASA satellites and cell phones. 


This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio at:

North America experiences a yearly monsoon weather system in late summer as moisture comes up from the west coast of Mexico and enters the southwestern U.S. The seasonal weather pattern brings both much of the region's precipitation but can also pose a threat in the form of flash flooding. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission gathers data from these storms in order to better understand the precipitation processes happening within, which can help better forecast the breaks and surges in the monsoon. 

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