Written by 3:14 am European Union

Satellite data shows no rise in groundwater levels across Europe, increasing drought fears

Drought is impacting Europe on a larger scale than researchers expected, with data from satellites showing no significant rise in groundwater levels. 

Researchers from Austria’s Graz University of Technology have analysed the data from two satellites orbiting Earth.  

“A few years ago, I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe, especially in Germany or Austria,” researcher Torsten Mayer-Gürr said. 

“We are actually getting problems with the water supply here. We have to think about this.”

The two satellites, named Tom and Jerry, orbit the Earth in a polar orbit at an altitude of just under 490 kilometres, with a distance of 200 kilometres between the two. 

Researchers use satellite gravimetry to observe the world’s groundwater resources and document the changes in recent years, the university says.

It is part of a bigger project by the European Union to assess groundwater resources and develop sustainable water management plans. 

Scientists collaborate across specific projects to determine the levels of groundwater.  

Professor Mayer-Gürr said it was necessary to document the continuing drought and to have continuous satellite missions in space.

“The processing and the computational effort here are quite large,” he said. 

“We have a distance measurement every five seconds and thus about half a million measurements per month.

“From this we then determine gravity field maps.” 

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