Application of Multiple Satellite Radar Altimetry Data Sets to Serve Inland Surface Water Projects
- (University of Maryland)
Satellite radar altimetry is a valuable tool in providing surface height (stage) measurements of inland water targets. The technique is being utilized in various interdisciplinary research and operational-based projects, in many cases providing new datasets for regions where traditional gauge data is sparse. Multiple radar altimeter data sets are now available from NASA and other agencies. While tandem operating periods or synergistic missions offer increased spatial resolution over river basins and wetlands, the provision of continuous (current and archival) data sets transfers lake height measurements into long-term proxy indicators of climate change.
This proposal seeks to explore several inland water science investigations using archival (T/P, Jason-1, ERS), current (Jason-2/OSTM, ENVISAT) and future (Jason-3, SARAL, Sentinel-3) radar altimeter data. The science focus is on river and wetland dynamics and the utilization of lake levels as a proxy indicator of climate change. A multi-altimeter approach provides a more global outlook, combining the temporal and spatial resolution merits of each instrument, while the exploration of additional synergistic data such as NASA's ICESat-1 mission offers a multi-sensor approach for the determination of river discharge. A strong instrument performance and validation theme runs throughout the proposed program with respect to ongoing and future missions. This includes addressing the problems inherent in the merger of multiple datasets, and seeking refined radar echo interpretation methods to improve target detection and elevation accuracy. Technical results will feed directly into a near real time NASA/USDA operational program that monitors large lakes and reservoirs around the world for drought and water resources issues.
The main objectives are thus: