Review of Understanding of Earth’s Hydrological Cycle: Observations, Theory and Modelling

  • Michael RastEmail author
  • Johnny Johannessen
  • Wolfram Mauser
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 46)


Water is our most precious and arguably most undervalued natural resource. It is essential for life on our planet, for food production and economic development. Moreover, water plays a fundamental role in shaping weather and climate. However, with the growing global population, the planet’s water resources are constantly under threat from overuse and pollution. In addition, the effects of a changing climate are thought to be leading to an increased frequency of extreme weather causing floods, landslides and drought. The need to understand and monitor our environment and its resources, including advancing our knowledge of the hydrological cycle, has never been more important and apparent. The best approach to do so on a global scale is from space. This paper provides an overview of the major components of the hydrological cycle, the status of their observations from space and related data products and models for hydrological variable retrievals. It also lists the current and planned satellite missions contributing to advancing our understanding of the hydrological cycle on a global scale. Further details of the hydrological cycle are substantiated in several of the other papers in this Special Issue.


Earth observation Satellite remote sensing Water cycle Hydrological cycle 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Rast
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johnny Johannessen
    • 2
  • Wolfram Mauser
    • 3
  1. 1.ESA/ESRINFrascatiItaly
  2. 2.Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center (NERSC)BergenNorway
  3. 3.Ludwig Maximilian University of MunichMunichGermany

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