Water and Energy Cycle Focus Area
WEC supports focused and crosscutting research to improve our understanding of the global water cycle.
The Water and Energy Cycle focus area (WEC) works to define, quantify, and model the different components of the water cycle that take place on land, including precipitation, snow, soil moisture, surface water and groundwater, and their interactions with other Earth systems. This research helps improve our understanding of how much water exists on Earth, how it’s changing over time, and what quality it’s in. It also helps us understand the energy that is transferred when water moves around the Earth and changes phase from liquid water to water vapor to snow. WEC uses observations from satellites and aircraft to help inform this research, and they partner with other Research and Analysis Program focus areas on crosscutting topics like ocean dynamics and cloud formation.
WEC Research Questions
WEC research addresses the following overarching questions:
How will water cycle dynamics change in the future?
How are global precipitation, evaporation, and the cycling of water changing
What are the effects of clouds and surface hydrologic processes on Earth’s climate?
How are variations in local weather, precipitation, and water resources related to global climate variation?
WEC Associated Missions
The table below lists the missions, campaigns, and instruments relevant to the Global Water and Energy Cycle focus area in all phases of operation. To learn more about the meaning of mission phases, please click here.
Learn more about WEC
Terrestrial Hydrology Program
The Terrestrial Hydrology Program (THP) helps develop new remote sensing techniques to improve global water measurements that take into account natural variations in the water cycle and water resource management. These measurements help us understand how much water is stored on land and where, as well as how global water interacts with the atmosphere. Particular emphasis is placed on the application of satellite-based data for characterizing and predicting the terrestrially linked components of the water cycle and the dynamics of large-scale river basins. This research will help improve future measurements and inform future satellite and field experiments.
NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study
The NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study (NEWS) seeks to improve our ability to predict how the global water and energy cycle behaves. NEWS supports advanced global observation, data assimilation, and improved representation of the water and energy cycles in climate models, better prediction systems to more effectively quantity the hydrologic consequences of climate change, and produce useful seasonal and longer-range hydrologic predictions.
WEC News and Information
Earth Observatory | April 26, 2019
When a mountain glacier melts, a lake forms and then expands. Around the world, mountain glaciers are retreating due to rising snowlines: warmer air is rising to higher elevations, promoting more melting and less snow accumulation.
Earth Observatory | April 24, 2019
Lakes and ponds come and go over time. Over the past four decades, Landsat satellites have peered down as thousands of them have filled up and dried out—in many cases several times.
Earth Science News | April 1, 2019
Tropical Cyclone Idai barreled down on Mozambique on March 14, 2019 — leaving a path of destruction in its wake and triggering devastating floods.
WEC for Scientists
Scientific Meetings and Conferences
Stay tuned for upcoming scientific meetings and conferences.
Research and Funding Opportunities
Solicited program elements relevant to WEC are publicized through the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) NASA Research Announcements (NRAs) on the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) website. Past, open, and future solicitations can be searched and viewed on NSPIRES.
Current Solicitations of interest to the WEC Community:
- A.23 Terrestrial Hydrology
- A.25 The Soil Moisture Active-Passive Mission Science Team
- A.28 GRACE-FO Science Team
- A.40 Understanding Changes in High Mountain Asia
NASA Research Resources, Associated Programs, and Partnerships
Access NASA data related to Water and Energy Cycle and learn more about center-level WEC programs and partnerships at the links below:
Applied Sciences Program, Capacity Building Program
Applied Sciences Program, Disasters Program
Applied Sciences Program, Water Resources Program
Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Goddard Space Flight Center Atmospheric Sciences Program and Climate and Radiation Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Earth Atmospheric Sciences Section
Langley Science Directorate
Marshall Global Hydrology and Climate Center
Global Water and Energy Cycle Focus Area
Terrestrial Hydrology Program
SMAP Program Scientist Contact