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Interferometric SAR for Improved Topography of Floodplains

CSR and NASA JPL have recently undertaken a collaborative study to develop improved capability for floodplain modeling using remotely sensed data from multiple sensors.  The main objective of this research is to provide the critical input fields for hydrological models to enable more accurate prediction of flooding events and flood extent in riverine and coastal floodplains.  Some of the most important of these inputs include an accurate description of the topography of the floodplain, as well as the state of soil moisture and vegetation cover, all of  which are often not well known.  Data are being acquired and models are being developed at sites in Texas and Australia. 

On September 6 and 7, NASA acquired multispectral MASTER and interferometric SAR (TOPSAR) data over the Finke River and Ellery Creek near Alice Springs, NT, Australia as part of the NASA PacRim 2000 mission currently being flown (http://airsar.jpl.nasa.gov/). The flight lines over Finke Gorge Park and Palm Valley are shown below overlaid on a regional digital elevation model (DEM). 

A subset of data from each flightline, shown below in a quicklook TOPSAR interferogram product, is indicative of the outstanding quality and the spectacular topographic features in the area. 

Ellery Creek

Finke River Gorge

Palm Creek

Although flooding is usually associated with coastal environments or river systems regularly subjected to the effects of extensive precipitation, it also occurs in arid and semi-arid climates.  In areas of Australia with low relief, the impact of runoff on land degradation is so significant that hydrologic modeling studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of topography on vegetation cover on mountain ranges, alluvial fans, and footslopes of drainage basins.  The Finke River and Ellery Creek experienced a 100-year flooding event in February 2000, which will be studied using these new data and a previous acquisition in 1996.  The effect of the extreme rainfall is shown in the sequence of Landsat 7 Thematic Mapper images shown below.  In addition to contemporaneous flooding, the Finke is also of great interest in paleoflood studies.  These data should also prove valuable in an ongoing collaborative study of these flooding events by CSR and the U of Arizona http://www.csr.utexas.edu/rs/research/aussie/ 

September 23, 1999

January 29, 2000

March 1, 2000

March 17, 2000


Last Modified: Wed Apr 14, 1999