IFC and NASA Study Soil Moisture




Witold Krajewski, Ricardo Mantilla, and Navid Jadidoleslam



Project Period:

May–August 2016


South Fork Watershed — Ames, Iowa

Services provided by IFC:

The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) worked with NASA on a project designed to help the scientific community better understand and monitor soil moisture using data gathered by NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite.

“Understanding rainfall variability gives you an idea how much water gets into the soil and how quickly it dries out … to understand that process is important.” —IFC Director Witold Krajewski

Project Description:

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and partners visiting the SMAP project site.

The IFC explored the benefits of using soil moisture data gathered by NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to enhance real-time flood forecasting for the entire state of Iowa. This project investigated the impact of soil moisture variability on flooding and leveraged the advanced technologies developed by expert researchers at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering (the IFC’s parent organization) and the IFC.

Through the project, researchers gained a better understanding of the relationship between soil moisture and the intensively managed agricultural landscapes of the Midwest. This information is helping Iowans make better informed decisions on how to work progressively toward improving the resiliency of Iowa’s highly altered landscapes.