The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves. When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration (ET). ECOSTRESS will address 3 science questions:

  • How is the terrestrial biosphere responding to changes in water availability?
  • How do changes in diurnal vegetation water stress impact the global carbon cycle?
  • Can agricultural vulnerability be reduced through advanced monitoring of agricultural water consumptive use and improved drought estimation?

Three science objectives have been identified to address these questions:

  • Identify critical thresholds of water use and water stress in key climate sensitive biomes (e.g., tropical/dry transition forests, boreal forests);
  • Detect the timing, location, and predictive factors leading to plant water uptake decline and/or cessation over the diurnal cycle;
  • Measure agricultural water consumptive use over CONUS at spatiotemporal scales applicable to improving drought estimation accuracy.

Scientific Instrument(s)

- Prototype HyspIRI Thermal Infrared Radiometer