Satellite Remote Sensing and Hydrologic Modeling for Flood Inundation Mapping in Lake Victoria Basin: Implications for Hydrologic Prediction in Ungauged Basins

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Khan S. I. , Hong Y., Wang J., Yilmaz K. K. , Gourley J. J. , Adler R. F. , ...More

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, vol.49, no.1, pp.85-95, 2011 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 49 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/tgrs.2010.2057513
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.85-95
  • Keywords: Floods, hydrology, optical sensors, rainfall-runoff modeling, satellite precipitation, COASTAL FLOODPLAIN, FINITE-ELEMENT, RADAR IMAGERY, EXTENT, INFORMATION, PERFORMANCE, CALIBRATION, ASTER, MODIS, AREA


Floods are among the most catastrophic natural disasters around the globe impacting human lives and infrastructure. Implementation of a flood prediction system can potentially help mitigate flood-induced hazards. Such a system typically requires implementation and calibration of a hydrologic model using in situ observations (i.e., rain and stream gauges). Recently, satellite remote sensing data have emerged as a viable alternative or supplement to in situ observations due to their availability over vast ungauged regions. The focus of this study is to integrate the best available satellite products within a distributed hydrologic model to characterize the spatial extent of flooding and associated hazards over sparsely gauged or ungauged basins. We present a methodology based entirely on satellite remote sensing data to set up and calibrate a hydrologic model, simulate the spatial extent of flooding, and evaluate the probability of detecting inundated areas. A raster-based distributed hydrologic model, Coupled Routing and Excess STorage (CREST), was implemented for the Nzoia basin, a subbasin of Lake Victoria in Africa. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Terra-based and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer-based flood inundation maps were produced over the region and used to benchmark the distributed hydrologic model simulations of inundation areas. The analysis showed the value of integrating satellite data such as precipitation, land cover type, topography, and other products along with space-based flood inundation extents as inputs to the distributed hydrologic model. We conclude that the quantification of flooding spatial extent through optical sensors can help to calibrate and evaluate hydrologic models and, hence, potentially improve hydrologic prediction and flood management strategies in ungauged catchments.