Soil moisture is not only important for sound weather forecasting. In addition it is an indispensable parameter for climate modelling. Never before were scientists able to access such an extensive data product as that now compiled by the ESA with the help of several microwave measurements from different satellites.
Dr. Alexander Löw, who leads the Terrestrial Remote Sensing Group within the framework of CliSAP at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, has already worked with the data set. "It is the best data product of this type currently available". The special feature: this is the only long term global data set covering more than 30 years. The group will investigate possible applications to its climate models. Then it will be used to expand predictive models, among other things.
The water content of the soil plays an important role in the climate system. It is not only essential for the vegetation but also influences the exchange of water and energy between the earth´s surface and the atmosphere. If there is, for instance, little water in the soil, evaporation drops and the layers of air near the ground heat up faster. Record high temperatures can be the result. Soil moisture also has an influence on high water levels: if the soil is already saturated with water so that it cannot absorb any more, the rainfall runs off the surface, which in turn can lead to flooding.