Radar mapping of broad-scale inundation: challenges and opportunities in Australia

O'Grady, Damien, and LeBlanc, Marc (2014) Radar mapping of broad-scale inundation: challenges and opportunities in Australia. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, 28 (1). pp. 29-38.

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This paper explores our ability to map the extent of large floods in near real time using coarse resolution C-band radar remote sensing. The European Space Agency’s advanced synthetic aperture radar aboard the Envisat satellite, operating in global monitoring mode (GM), is considered for Australia due to its high temporal frequency, comprehensive coverage and ease of acquisition. Challenges are identified which relate both to the use of radar generally, and also in particular to GM data, in the demarcation of water and land. In Australia, the need for a better understanding of the expected backscatter response from inundated areas in tropical savanna, which covers one third of its landmass, is targeted. The backscatter responses to two large flood events in the tropical savanna of northern Australia are investigated, showing markedly different results. One flood allows the accurate classification of inundated extents, while the other is almost completely indistinguishable from the surrounding wet vegetation. Data from water height loggers established in the neighbouring Mitchell floodplain over a dry/wet season period provide an insight into the interaction of these particular vegetation conditions under flood. Results concur with the work of others, that backscatter response is a complex combination of effects depending on relative water height, vegetation spatial density, biomass, and verticality, or enmeshment, of super-surface grasses. Opportunities are also identified that relate to future space missions, the synoptic use with optical data, and better knowledge of the processes that govern the applicability of radar data for mapping large flood events.

Item ID: 26329
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1436-3259
Keywords: synthetic aperture radar, flood monitoring , soil moisture, Envisat
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2013 01:37
FoR Codes: 09 ENGINEERING > 0909 Geomatic Engineering > 090905 Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040608 Surfacewater Hydrology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 100%
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