Using GPS to Study the Terrestrial Water Cycle



Researchers are using GPS—usually thought of as a way to measure position—to measure water cycle properties, including surface soil moisture, snow depth, and vegetation growth, which are important for climate studies and satellite validation. Water managers need these data to predict, and possibly mitigate, hazards such as floods and droughts. While there are strong international efforts to use ground networks to measure and archive data for these quantities, the GPS-based water cycle data have the advantage that existing instrumentation can be used, significantly reducing the cost of operating this new terrestrial water cycle network.