NASA releases global maps of soil moisture

NASA recently released maps of soil moisture content and groundwater wetness for many regions including India. It is a joint initiative with University of Nebraska.

About the Initiative

Though NASA has been releasing maps of soil moisture for long, this is the first time the map is on a global scale. It is a joint initiative of NASA and University of Nebraska. The global maps are to be made freely available and is distributed online by National Drought Mitigation Centre in USA. The data from these maps would help the agriculture sector and in prediction of drought conditions.

Data from the Maps

Some of the data available from these maps include:

  • Surface Soil Moisture (SSM): it is an essential climate variable and it gives the relative moisture content in the top few centimetres of the soil.
  • Root Zone Soil Moisture: it is the moisture content in the soil layers that extend for about 3 ft from the base of the top few layers.
  • Shallow Groundwater


The maps were developed using data from the GRACE FO satellites. GRACE FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On) is a joint mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). It is a continuation of the 2002 GRACE Mission. It was launched in 2018.