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Water-Consumption: New Mobile App Shows Maps of World Water Use

Oct 14, 2015 08:08 PM EDT
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Agriculture water-use mapping
A new smartphone app will allow water managers, farmers and others to see maps of worldwide water use.
(Photo : Flickr: Royce Bair, image from NASA)

It's now possible to see which regions of the Earth are consuming the most water, using an application called EEFLUX that can produce field-scale maps of water use. The system was developed by scientists at the University of Nebraska and partners at Google, Inc. and the University of Idaho, using NASA data, according to a release.

This is all part of something called METRIC technology, which implements satellite images to produce digital maps. It is being used by 15 states' water managers to measure water use for agriculture. Farmers too will be able to use the app to check maps showing water use, in nearly real-time, using a mobile device, said the release.

"The use of satellite imagery provides the means to monitor the agricultural water consumption over every square foot of land surface," said Ayse Kilic, a professor at the University of Nebraska.
The data and images have their source in Landsat satellites. Those let water specialists see how much water is evaporating and transpiring from plants' leaves-the process called evapotranspiration (ET), said a release.

Plants get cooler after that process and show up in infrared satellite images in the cooler color of blue, noted the release.

Current water consumption data can also be compared with the data gathered from more than 30 years ago.

The new app, EEFLUX, has been shown to the California Department of Water Resources, the California Water Control Board and the World Bank, the release confirmed.

"Having water consumption maps produced quickly on Smartphones has been everyone's dream," said Kilic in the release. "In two years time we hope to see all farmers watching their fields from their phones and scheduling irrigations."

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