Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
04 Aug 2010
 | 04 Aug 2010

The potential for remote sensing and hydrologic modelling to assess the spatio-temporal dynamics of ponds in the Ferlo Region (Senegal)

V. Soti, C. Puech, D. Lo Seen, A. Bertran, C. Vignolles, B. Mondet, N. Dessay, and A. Tran

Abstract. In the Ferlo Region in Senegal, livestock depend on temporary ponds for water but are exposed to the Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a disease transmitted to herds by mosquitoes which develop in these ponds. Mosquito abundance is related to the emptying and filling phases of the ponds, and in order to study the epidemiology of RVF, pond modelling is required. In the context of a data scarce region, a simple hydrologic model which makes use of remote sensing data was developed to simulate pond water dynamics from daily rainfall. Two sets of ponds were considered: those located in the main stream of the Ferlo Valley whose hydrological dynamics are essentially due to runoff, and the ponds located outside, which are smaller and whose filling mechanisms are mainly due to direct rainfall. Separate calibrations and validations were made for each set of ponds. Calibration was performed from daily field data (rainfall, water level) collected during the 2001 and 2002 rainy seasons and from three different sources of remote sensing data: 1) very high spatial resolution optical satellite images to access pond location and surface area at given dates, 2) Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data to estimate pond catchment area and 3) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) data for rainfall estimates. The model was applied to all ponds of the study area, the results were validated and a sensitivity analysis was performed. Water height simulations using gauge rainfall as input were compared to water level measurements from four ponds and Nash coefficients >0.7 were obtained. Comparison with simulations using TRMM rainfall data gave mixed results, with poor water height simulations for the year 2001 and good estimations for the year 2002. A pond map derived from a Quickbird satellite image was used to assess model accuracy for simulating pond water areas for all the ponds of the study area. The validation showed that modelled water areas were mostly underestimated but significantly correlated, particularly for the larger ponds. The results of the sensitivity analysis showed that parameters relative to pond shape and catchment area estimation have less effects on model simulation than parameters relative to soil properties (rainfall threshold causing runoff in dry soils and the coefficient expressing soil moisture decrease with time) or the water loss coefficient. Overall, our results demonstrate the possibility of using a simple hydrologic model with remote sensing data to track pond water heights and water areas in a homogeneous arid area.