What is Root Zone Moisture?

NASA recently released the estimates of soil moisture in the root zone (the top 39 inches of soil) as of January 11, 2021. Accordingly, the Konya Plains had the lowest “root zone moisture”. The estimate was done based on the GRACE-FO satellite data.

Key Findings

  • The Konya Plains located in Turkey received 38% less rainfall in 2020 as compared to 2019. This is the main reason for the region to become the lowest “root zone moisture” area in the world.
  • The wetness percentile of Root Zone Moisture in western India was between 80% and 98%. In eastern India, the wetness percentile was between 30% and 70%. In Northern India it was less than 10%
  • The Surface Soil Moisture along the coasts of Western Ghats was above 95%. In the rest of the country, it was less than 30%. In northern India, it was less than 10%.

The Report on Root Zone Moisture

  • The decline in Root Zone Moisture in the Mediterranean countries have put agriculture in the region under threat.
  • The South African city Cape Town witnessed severe droughts. The water reservoirs that supply water to more than 3.7 million people had dipped to below 20%. This has further contributed to the root zone moisture decline in these regions.
  • The water reserves of Istanbul have the lowest volumes of water in fifteen years.

About Root Zone Moisture

The water and moisture in the soil to a depth of 39 inches is called root zone moisture. It takes a lot of time for the aquifers to recover from droughts in the absence of rain. The aquifers rely on surface moisture to percolate through soil and rocks. When there are no rains and surface moisture, the root zone moisture might vanish completely. This eventually will make the soil unfit for trees and plants.

Root Zone Irrigation

Root Zone Irrigation is the only solution to soils that have decreased root zone moisture. Root zone irrigation is expensive than the surface drip irrigation. However, root zone irrigation is more effective than the surface drip irrigation. Currently, root zone irrigation is being used in cultivation of grapes.

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