Producing time series of river water height by means of satellite radar altimetry-a comparative study

Emmanuel Roux J. S. da Silva A. C. V. Getirana M. P. Bonnet S. Calmant 1 J. M. Martinez Frédérique Seyler
1 GOHS
LEGOS - Laboratoire d'études en Géophysique et océanographie spatiales
Abstract : Satellite radar altimetry is complementary to in situ limnimetric surveys as a means of estimating the water height of large rivers, lakes and flood plains. Production of water height time series by satellite radar altimetry technology requires first the selection of radar ground target locations corresponding to water body surfaces under study, i.e. the definition of "virtual limnimetric stations". We propose to investigate qualitative and quantitative differences between three representative virtual station creation methodologies: (a) a fully manual method, (b) a semi-automatic method based on a land cover characterization that allows the water body surface under study to be located; and (c) an original fully automatic procedure that exploits a digital elevation model and an estimation of the river width. The results yielded by these three methods are comparable: maximum absolute magnitudes of water height differences being 0.46, 0.26 and 0.15 m for, respectively, 95, 90 and 80% of the water height values obtained. Moreover, more than 67% and 92% of time series jointly produced by the methods present root mean square differences lower than 20 and 50 cm, respectively. The results show that the fully automatic method developed herein provides as reliable results as the fully manual one. This opens the way to use of satellite radar altimetry for the generation of water height time series on a large scale, and considerably extends the applicability of satellite radar altimetry in hydrology.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 9:40:56 AM
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Emmanuel Roux, J. S. da Silva, A. C. V. Getirana, M. P. Bonnet, S. Calmant, et al.. Producing time series of river water height by means of satellite radar altimetry-a comparative study. Hydrological Sciences Journal, Taylor & Francis, 2010, 55 (1), pp.104-120. ⟨10.1080/02626660903529023⟩. ⟨hal-00991320⟩

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