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Satellites and machine learning for water management

09 April 2020

Freshwater is vital to life – but a growing global population, economic development and the effects of climate change are putting mounting pressure on this precious finite resource. Globally, agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater consumed, so efficient water management is essential.

An ESA project that focuses on fusing data from two different Copernicus Sentinel missions is providing estimates of evapotranspiration, which is not only key for sustainable agriculture, but also important for water resource management and for a number of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Evapotranspiration is the process where water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants.

The right amount of irrigation is, of course, a principal factor in keeping crops healthy. By monitoring evapotranspiration, crops suffering from water stress can be identified, even before any visible signs of damage have occurred.

At the same time, values of evapotranspiration can also be used to monitor the amount of water used in irrigation to make sure that water consumption remains sustainable.

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