NASA has investigated humanity’s impact on a number of our home planet’s natural resources and recently explored our impact on freshwater resources. Scientists have now completed the first global accounting of fluctuating water levels in Earth’s lakes and reservoirs – including ones previously too small to measure from space.
ICESat-2 sends 10,000 laser light pulses every second down to Earth. When reflected back to the satellite, those pulses deliver high-precision surface height measurements every 28 inches (70 centimeters) along the satellite’s orbit. With these trillions of data points, scientists can distinguish more features of Earth’s surface, like small lakes and ponds, and track them over time.
This image is of Lake Mead, which was formed by the creation of the Hoover Dam and lies on the Colorado River just south of Las Vegas.
Image Credit: National Park Service