Scientists develop new method to forecast floods upto 11 months in advance
Researchers have developed a new method to forecast devastating floods up to 11 months in advance, based on satellite monitoring of minute changes in the gravitational field of river basins. Scientists measured the quantity of water that was stored in a river basin months ahead of the spring flood season. Their statistical model precisely predicted this major flood event 5 months in advance.
Scientists at the University of California studied satellite data and examined past river floods, such as the ones that occurred in Missouri in 2011. Researchers used NASA’s twin GRACE satellites to examine a region’s flood potential. As the satellites revolved around the Earth, minute changes in gravity alter the satellites’ orbit. These changes are proportional to changes in mass, such as a buildup of water and snow. The team took into account all potential water sources, including snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater. They found that with their method they could predict dangerous flooding 5 months in advance and could potentially extend that window to 11 months.