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Researchers explore techniques to estimate ground water recharge


August 24, 2018
By Ground Water Canada

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San Antonio, TX – Southwest Research Institute scientists in Texas are investigating using the latest remote-sensing technology to assess groundwater recharge more accurately.

This information is critical for water resource managers, especially in arid regions, the institute (SwRI) said in a news release.

“When managing ground water resources, particularly in more arid environments, the greatest uncertainty lies in recharge rates,” said Ronald Green, a ground water hydrologist at SwRI who is set to discuss this program at the Texas Groundwater Summit on Aug. 29.

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“Hilly topography and arid environments pose special challenges and opportunities for remote-sensing applications,” Green said. “Using the Google Earth Engine, we combine precise elevation models, optical data and the Sentinel-1 satellite’s two- and three-dimensional images of landscapes.”

The SwRI team also integrates data from two new satellite systems, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) platform and the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS). The SMAP observatory measures the amount of water in the top 2 inches of soil. While designed to measure ocean winds during hurricanes, the SwRI-built CYGNSS constellation also makes measurements over land. These data might prove complementary to SMAP measurements. 

“Our research also assesses how vegetation affects recharge while refining precipitation patterns across watershed areas,” Green said. “Improvements in data acquisition and interpretation will improve recharge estimates. This is particularly important in drier regions where water demand is rapidly outpacing availability.”

More information may be found on the SwRI website