Earlier this month, Arizona State University (ASU) and Bowling Green State University received a $550,000 grant from NASA’s Earth Surface and Interior to track groundwater supplies in California. The research will comprise of a three-year study to use satellite data to more accurately measure water resources in California and predict future water availability and potential droughts. 
The joint study will incorporate various sophisticated techniques that will provide faster and more reliable water-related surface and subsurface observations. This will allow researchers to accurately model and predict future water shortages in regions especially prone to drought. 
One of these techniques includes Gravimetry, which allows researchers to track changes in the Earth’s hydrological cycle. It will be provided by NASA’s twin-satellite mission: Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). Launched in 2002, the GRACE mission is currently mapping variations in Earth’s gravity field, providing detailed data that can be used to analyze and measure a variety of earth’s resources. In the future, the two schools hope to collect data from the second generation GRACE-FO, which is scheduled to launch at the end of 2017. 
“This will be a huge leap forward in understanding the dynamics of water resources,” said ASU’s principal investigator Susanna Werth in an interview with ASU’s school newspaper. “Our hopes are that it will enable authorities and decision makers to accurately manage water resources and plan for future water allocations”. 
Although the focus of the Universities’ research is the state of California due to its extensive water management issues, the research team hopes to expand the study to the entirety of the southwestern U.S., including Arizona. “The whole region is affected by a long-term drought,” Werth commented in the same article, “with differences in severity, climate conditions, groundwater geology, and water management approaches.” 
Given the region’s critical need for water management and drought planning, this new research could potentially usher in a new wave of technology that can help provide a level of water resiliency for generations to come.
Published 1/31/2016 Valentine, Karin. NASA satellites to aid ASU researchers in California drought study. Arizona State University, January 18, 2017. Web. https://asunow.asu.edu/20170118-nasa-satellites-aid-asu-researchers-california-drought-study