Articles | Volume 14, issue 9
27 Sep 2010
 | 27 Sep 2010

Towards the sequential assimilation of SAR-derived water stages into hydraulic models using the Particle Filter: proof of concept

P. Matgen, M. Montanari, R. Hostache, L. Pfister, L. Hoffmann, D. Plaza, V. R. N. Pauwels, G. J. M. De Lannoy, R. De Keyser, and H. H. G. Savenije

Abstract. With the onset of new satellite radar constellations (e.g. Sentinel-1) and advances in computational science (e.g. grid computing) enabling the supply and processing of multi-mission satellite data at a temporal frequency that is compatible with real-time flood forecasting requirements, this study presents a new concept for the sequential assimilation of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)-derived water stages into coupled hydrologic-hydraulic models. The proposed methodology consists of adjusting storages and fluxes simulated by a coupled hydrologic-hydraulic model using a Particle Filter-based data assimilation scheme. Synthetic observations of water levels, representing satellite measurements, are assimilated into the coupled model in order to investigate the performance of the proposed assimilation scheme as a function of both accuracy and frequency of water level observations. The use of the Particle Filter provides flexibility regarding the form of the probability densities of both model simulations and remote sensing observations. We illustrate the potential of the proposed methodology using a twin experiment over a widely studied river reach located in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. The study demonstrates that the Particle Filter algorithm leads to significant uncertainty reduction of water level and discharge at the time step of assimilation. However, updating the storages of the model only improves the model forecast over a very short time horizon. A more effective way of updating thus consists in adjusting both states and inputs. The proposed methodology, which consists in updating the biased forcing of the hydraulic model using information on model errors that is inferred from satellite observations, enables persistent model improvement. The present schedule of satellite radar missions is such that it is likely that there will be continuity for SAR-based operational water management services. This research contributes to evolve reactive flood management into systematic or quasi-systematic SAR-based flood monitoring services.