Measuring Reservoir Heights via Satellite Altimetry Products for Global Flood Modeling

Project study area - Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota. Credit: Google Earth.

Project study area - Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota. Credit: Google Earth.

Team location: Goddard Space Flight Center

Ronald Albright
Lauren Kaiser
Sean Madsen
Frederick Policelli, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Science Advisor)
Dr. Michael Jasinksi, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Science Advisor)

Abstract: Accounting for the regulation of water flow imposed on watershed drainage by dam operations is currently a major challenge in hydrological modeling for near real-time global flood forecasting. This water flow information is only available in areas where authorities are willing to release this data, leaving other regions, such as the developing world, without data access. Global flood models cannot provide accurate results and predictions for areas affected by dams without this necessary data, making these communities vulnerable to flood disasters. In order to compensate for the lack of data, a method must be developed in which altimetry data from satellites can be incorporated to account for the impact of dams on current flood models. By comparing near real-time satellite data to real-time in-situ water data, a change in reservoir heights can be observed and the relationship to discharge rates can be determined in order to monitor changes in water storage of downstream releases. The methods of this project can be used to adjust global flood models to properly account for the affects of dams on a watershed and predict future floods, preventing economic loss and ultimately saving lives.

Download the poster PDF here.

Video transcript available here.