Soil moisture is a variable that binds together all of the planet's environmental systems, scientists say.

More precise data will enable forecasters and policy-makers to deal more effectively with drought or flooding in specific regions.   

"It's the metabolism of the system," said Dara Entekhabi, lead scientist of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory. Rocket blasts off with NASA satellite to track climate change
The tiny amount of soil moisture links the planet's overall environmental systems – its water, energy and carbon cycles - as well as determines whether particular regions are afflicted with drought or flooding.

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