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Study: Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul

12 February 2015

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Circling hundreds of miles above Earth, weather satellites are working round-the-clock to provide rainfall data that are key to a complex system of global flood prediction.

A new Cornell University study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul. Particularly in many developing countries, satellite-based flood prediction has weak spots, which could lead to major flooding that catches people by surprise. What's more, four of the 10 dedicated rainfall satellites are past their warranty, further increasing risk of disaster.

The study, published online on 11 February in Environmental Research Letters, is led by Patrick Reed, professor of civil and environmental engineering, in collaboration with researchers at Princeton University and the Aerospace Corporation.

"It's important for us to start thinking as a globe about a serious discussion on flood adaptation, and aiding affected populations to reduce their risks," Reed said. "We want to give people time to evacuate, to make better choices, and to understand their conditions."

Source: Cornell University

Image credit: ESA/AOES Medialab - Artist's concept of SMOS

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