New Waves August 2008

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

TWRI grant recipient develops algorithm

By Laura Maeker

Texas A&M University student Narendra N. Das and his advising professor Dr. Binayak Mohanty of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering have developed an algorithm for downscaling soil moisture measurements from satellite sensors. This algorithm potentially can be used to create a repository of soil moisture and evapotranspiration maps for the state of Texas, Das said.

Das, originally from Bhilai, India and a recipient of a $5,000 2007-2008 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant, said providing better quality and high-resolution surface and subsurface soil moisture, and evapotranspiration information/data will help improve the efficacy and accuracy of the forecast from hydrologic models.

"My research can be applied to real-world situations in watershed management, irrigation scheduling, drought assessment, weather forecasts and flood forecasts," he said.

Das said Texas research organizations and environmental industries use various hydrological models.

The state and evolution of soil moisture and evapotranspiration are primarily forced by precipitation, which is the major source of space and time variability in the hydrologic cycle.

Das used the Soil-Water-Atmosphere-Plant (SWAP) model, which simulates both the soil water quantity and quality with daily temporal resolution, in his research. SWAP was not originally designed for distributed modeling, but was adapted into a framework developed by Das and Mohanty, he said. The framework is capable of producing watershed-scale soil moisture outputs at various depths in a grid format.

Das plans to join a national lab or become a faculty member at a university. His research was funded by TWRI with funds obtained through the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the National Institutes for Water Research. TWRI is the designated institute for water resources research in Texas.

To read Das' report, click here.

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