Water Management & Protection Prize - 10th Award


The team of Matthew McCabe (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia)

The work of Dr. McCabe and his team involves employing CubeSat constellations in the sustainable management and security of linked water-food systems, culminating in the highest resolution estimates of agricultural water with global coverage at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions.

Their work shows how a CubeSat constellation with the capacity to monitor the dynamic land surface condition can facilitate not only the detection of vegetation health and condition, but also allow monitoring of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and earthquakes, the delineation of surface water changes and changes in lake and river extent, or any other application where timely and repeatable information is needed to procure actionable intelligence.

Team members include Bruno Aragon (KAUST) and Rasmus Houborg (Planet Labs, USA).

Winner Profile

Dr. Matthew McCabe

Dr. McCabe is Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Centre for Watershed Sciences, at the University of California, Davis.


• 2003 – PhD: University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
• 1997 – BE (Hons); University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia (Environmental Engineering)

Selected Awards:

2016 – Inaugural Planet Ambassador, Planet Labs, San Francisco
2009 – Tall Poppy Award of the Australian Institute of Policy and Sciences (NSW and ACT)
1997 – Australian Institute of Engineers Civil and Structural Branch Prize (Newcastle) for Dux of Final Year Engineering
1997 – Tony Herzog Prize for the Best Engineering Honours Thesis, University of Newcastle, Australia



Acceptance Speech


Winning Work

[1] McCabe MF, Aragon B, Houborg R, Mascaro J (2017) “Cubesats in hydrology: ultrahigh resolution insights into vegetation dynamics and terrestrial evaporation”, Water Resources Research, 53, doi: 10.1002/2017WR022240

[2] Aragon B, Ziliani MG, Houborg R, Franz TE and McCabe MF (2021) “Cubesats deliver new insights into agricultural water use at daily and 3 m resolutions”, Scientific Reports, 11(1), 12131, doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-91646-w

[3] Houborg R and McCabe MF (2018) “A Cubesat Enabled Spatio-Temporal Enhancement Method (CESTEM) utilizing Planet, Landsat and MODIS data”, Remote Sensing of Environment, doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2018.02.067

[4] Lopez Valencia O, Johansen K, Aragon B, Li T, Houborg R, Malbeteau Y, Al-Mashharawi S, Altaf MU, Fallatah EM, Dasari HP, Hoteit I and McCabe MF (2020) “Mapping groundwater abstractions from irrigated agriculture: big data, inverse modeling and a satellite-model fusion approach”, Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences, doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-50

[5] McCabe MF, Rodell M, Alsdorf DE, Miralles DG, Uijlenhoet R, Wagner W, Lucieer A, Houborg R, Verhoest NEC, Franz TE, Shi J, Gao H and Wood EF (2017) “The future of Earth observation in hydrology”, Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences 21, 3879-3914, doi:10.5194/hess-21-3879-2017

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