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NASA Open-Source Geospatial Tool Helps Water Managers Monitor Potential Water Loss

NASA Open-Source Geospatial Tool Helps Water Managers Monitor Potential Water Loss

Created: Thursday, February 8, 2024 - 14:32
Federal & State Resources, General Security and Resilience

Sustainable water management is a challenge in many areas around the country, especially in the arid western U.S. To help with this issue, researchers from NASA, the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), created a free online tool, OpenET, for mapping evapotranspiration at the scale of individual plots of land, which can improve water management.

The open-source online platform, OpenET, uses a combination of six satellite-driven models that utilize publicly available data from the Landsat program to calculate evapotranspiration (ET), the movement of water vapor from soil and plant leaves into the atmosphere, according to NASA. Water managers can leverage OpenET to gain a more detailed picture of water consumption in their area. For instance, using the platform can help enable the development and near real-time tracking of more realistic water budgets, leading to better-informed decisions about water allocations and use in a local basin or watershed. It can also help with conservation by quantifying reductions in consumptive water use from water conservation efforts. “Managers can use ET data to measure the water savings of different conservation activities and evaluate their effectiveness, not only in terms of water use but also in terms of financial costs,” according to the platform’s website.

In addition, the OpenET website includes use cases to highlight the impactful ways that more accessible evapotranspiration (ET) data can support sustainable water management and drive more wide-scale adoption of innovative water management solutions. Currently, OpenET covers 17 western U.S. states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Over time, the intent is to expand OpenET to include other states in the U.S. and other regions across the globe. Access OpenET here, read more about using OpenET for water management, or read a related article at NASA.