Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

Future Remote Sensing Mission Holds Promise for Flood Monitoring

The 2021 Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will measure water surface elevation, slopes, and inundations of rivers as narrow as 50 meters.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


Floods are major hazards to life and infrastructure, yet they are still difficult to monitor across spatial and temporal scales. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is expected to offer novel observational capabilities in flood detection and monitoring, such as the simultaneous measurement of water surface elevations and inundation areas. Frasson et al. [2019] provide a comprehensive global scale analysis of past floods to understand the limits of these capabilities.

The study highlights that, if operational, the SWOT mission would have been able to characterize more than half of historical floods recorded between 1985 and 2018. SWOT deployment characteristics permit monitoring of long-lasting or large floods with data relevant for emergency response activities and also capable of supporting real-time flood hydraulic modeling.

Citation: Frasson, R. P. d. M., Schumann, G. J.‐P., Kettner, A. J., Brakenridge, G. R., & Krajewski, W. F. [2019]. Will the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission observe floods? Geophysical Research Letters, 46. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL084686

—Valeriy Ivanov, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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