UM Geosciences Department Receives Grant to Develop Remote Sensing Technologies

August 02, 2017

MISSOULA – Researchers in the geosciences department at the University of Montana received a $750,000 NASA EPSCoR grant to develop and apply remote sensing technologies to study hydrology on Montana’s agricultural lands. The research will provide insight into the state agricultural system’s resiliency to drought while studying the impact of agricultural activity on the hydrologic cycle, water security and other users.

Rendition of Landsat 8 as passes over the Gulf of Mexico. Image courtesy of NASA’s GSFC.

UM geoscientists Marco Maneta, Brian Chaffin and John Kimball,Kelsey Jencso as well as Bruce Maxwell and Stephanie Ewing of Montana State University, will team up with hydrologists at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to carry out the research. They will integrate NASA technologies and advanced computer models to understand and anticipate how farmers allocate resource – such as land, water and fertilizer – to accommodate new or reduced access to water, and to understand how their decisions impact river flows and water users downstream. This research will help Montana develop new state-of-the-art technology to tackle the water challenges faced by farmers across the country.

“This will help us understand how farmers use water and land when confronted with water shortages, policy interventions or shifts in agricultural markets,” said Maneta, the study’s principal investigator. “It will also allow us to simulate the impact of a range of climate and agricultural market scenarios on agricultural water use and revenues in Montana, and to inform water policy that promotes agricultural adaptation and resiliency. Understanding imbalances in the water supply and demand systems is a key component of addressing the vulnerability of Montana’s farming system.”

For more information on the research project, call Aaron Deskins in UM’s Department of Geosciences at 406-243-5853 or email


Contact: Aaron Deskins, UM Department of Geosciences, 406-243-5853,; Marco Maneta, UM geosciences researcher, 406-552-7500,