Gravity variations foretell flood risk months in advance | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

News in Brief

Gravity variations foretell flood risk months in advance

Satellites can monitor saturated river basins to forecast disasters

9:53am, July 8, 2014

FLOOD WARNING  Gravity variations from the sodden Missouri River basin could have predicted this 2011 flood months in advance, scientists say.

Small gravitational tugs from waterlogged river basins could give scientists a big advantage in predicting devastating floods, researchers report July 6 in Nature Geoscience.

Hydrologist J.T. Reager and colleagues from the University of California, Irvine looked at data from GRACE, a duo of NASA satellites that detect small changes in Earth’s gravity. As a river basin soaks up water, the satellites record a stronger gravitational pull. Wetter ground is more liable to flood when hit by a surge of rain or snowmelt.

The researchers studied GRACE data collected during the months before the May–July 2011 catastrophic flooding along the Missouri River. The team found that the region’s gravity increased leading up to the floods, and the researchers showed that the uptick could have been used to predict the 2011

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content