Water Storage and Flood Management in the U.S. Northwest

Two water-extents superimposed over the ASTER Global DEM, Version 2. The purple line is the MODIS (250m resolution) surface product (polygon, line-shapefile), and the multicolored line (yellows, red, orange) is the Landsat (30m resolution) water-extent. Both of these MODIS and Landsat reservoir outlines were taken over swaths from May 18, 2010.

Two water-extents superimposed over the ASTER Global DEM, Version 2. The purple line is the MODIS (250m resolution) surface product (polygon, line-shapefile), and the multicolored line (yellows, red, orange) is the Landsat (30m resolution) water-extent. Both of these MODIS and Landsat reservoir outlines were taken over swaths from May 18, 2010.

Team Location: Goddard Space Flight Center

Authors: Gerasimos Michalitsianos, Hector Guavara, Robert Harrison

Science Advisors/Mentors: Frederick Policelli, Katherine Melocik, Dr. Dan Slayback

Past Authors/Contributors: Avery Sandborn, John David

Abstract: Real-time global remote sensing of major flooding events is a necessity to curb the extent of damage, property destruction, and loss of human lives when these hydrologic disasters occur. Current global hydrological models, like CREST, do not yet take into account release and storage of water in manmade reservoirs. In less economically developed areas of the world, accurate flood modeling is not possible. Communities in these regions have no means of acquiring information on the timing and magnitude of water discharge from dammed bodies of water. Therefore, a remotely-sensed based solution to calculate water-storage changes in real-time is desirable. Reservoir heights corresponding to storage change can be calculated by intersecting MODIS and Landsat water extent with digital elevation models (DEMs). MODIS and Landsat reflectance data provide a means for computing accurate lake surface heights and water surface areas. In situ stream flow measurements from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Bureau of Reclamation were used to provide a proof of concept for water-storage change and reservoir height and area. Since many drainage basins contain man-made water bodies, this predictive tool will ultimately improve hydrological models around the world, and specifically, our partners at the DisasterAWARE program at the Pacific Disaster Center.

Video transcript available here.