Together, Nasa and Qatar plan to map desert groundwater resources
Under the sand of the Sahara, there are extensive groundwater deposits in places. Now they want to locate and track them from orbit. Picture of Nasa
Monitoring of subsurface freshwater deposits from orbit is estimated to be technically possible. Nasa and Qatar want to join forces with the radar satellite of the future.
“OASIS would be the first space radar specifically designed to search the Earth’s subsurface water,” says James Graf of NASA’s JPL.
The planned radar would be able to probe under a three-kilometer-thick layer of ice or nearly a hundred meters of sand.
Nasa has experience in technology like the one planned, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“Hot deserts are responding to climate change by expanding and cold deserts by shrinking,” explains Essam Heggy of Qatar’s Institute for Environment and Energy in QEERI. “By studying the forces driving these changes, we gain insight into the evolution of deserts on Earth.”
Groundwater bodies in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula are used for irrigation, causing them to deplete rapidly in places. Naturally, the filling of water resources is often very slow.
Researchers want to improve models of groundwater and monitor its changes so that authorities can respond to problems in a timely manner.
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