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Terrestrial Hydrology


Our group uses satellites and develops computer models to understand water cycle change, its interactions with climate, and implications for humanity.

  • How is Earth’s water cycle changing and what are the implications for hydrologic extremes and water availability?
  • How do the stocks and fluxes of the global water cycle interact with those of the biogeochemical, energy and angular momentum cycles to control Earth’s climate system?
  • To what extent are human activities, especially water management, driving regional and global changes in the water cycle?
  • How does terrestrial water storage modulate heat storage and sea level rise?
  • How does Earth’s crust deform in response to water movement over and through the land, and can observed deformation be used to quantify those movements?

Terrestrial Hydrology: Missions and Projects

  • SMAP - Soil Moisture Active Passive
  • GRACE - Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment
  • ASO - Airborne Snow Observatory
  • UAVSAR - Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar

The group also works on approved and developing future missions and mission concepts such as

  • GRACE-FO -  GRACE Follow On, with an expected 2017 launch,
  • SWOT - Surface Water Ocean Topography, with an expected 2020 launch

The terrestrial hydrology group explores terrestrial and global water cycle processes and their interactions with climate and humanity. We study all aspects of water movement (precipitation, snowmelt, evapotranspiration, runoff and streamflow) and storage (snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater) with an important focus on measuring and modeling these stocks and fluxes. Our work has important implications for weather and climate prediction, for food and energy production, and for regional water management.