The water cycle

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05 61 33 29 37

continental waters • atmospheric water • cryosphere • remote sensing • forecasting models

Learning objectives

The objective here is to introduce the many remote sensing (Sentinels, GRACE, GNSS, MODIS, CYGNSS, etc..) and modelling tools (Kalman filter, least square etc..) that allow monitoring of the water cycle in its different compartments: continental waters, atmospheric water, soil moisture and the cryosphere.

We will also show the basics of forecasting models or warning systems on various examples (sustainable agriculture, water management etc.) ranging from global scale to in situ measurements.


  • Basic knowledge of Python (rasterio, pandas, geopandas, matplotlib)

Brief description of the course

Satellite gravimetry is a new approach for studying global hydrology, which can be used for improving the monitoring result of the spatial and temporal changes in the water cycle. The Gravity Recovery & Climate Experiment (GRACE) and its successor GRACE-Follow On that sense an integrated mapping of tiny varying gravity variations due to redistributions of water mass inside the fluid envelops of the Earth (atmosphere, oceans, continental water storage), and with an unprecedented resolution. Main applications of GRACE for spatial scales more than 200-300 km, includes terrestrial water storage mass balance evaluation, hydrological components of groundwater and evapo-transpiration restoring, droughts analysis and glacier melting in response to the global warming.

The following topics will be covered from a remote sensing view:

  • The water cycle
  • Surface waters
  • Soil Moisture
  • Atmospheric water
  • Cryosphere