Articles | Volume 19, issue 9
Review article
01 Sep 2015
Review article |  | 01 Sep 2015

A review of applications of satellite SAR, optical, altimetry and DEM data for surface water modelling, mapping and parameter estimation

Z. N. Musa, I. Popescu, and A. Mynett

Abstract. Hydrological data collection requires deployment of physical infrastructure like rain gauges, water level gauges, as well as use of expensive equipment like echo sounders. Many countries around the world have recorded a decrease in deployment of physical infrastructure for hydrological measurements; developing countries especially have less of this infrastructure and, where it exists, it is poorly maintained. Satellite remote sensing can bridge this gap, and has been applied by hydrologists over the years, with the earliest applications in water body and flood mapping. With the availability of more optical satellites with relatively low temporal resolutions globally, satellite data are commonly used for mapping of water bodies, testing of inundation models, precipitation monitoring, and mapping of flood extent. Use of satellite data to estimate hydrological parameters continues to increase due to use of better sensors, improvement in knowledge of and utilization of satellite data, and expansion of research topics. A review of applications of satellite remote sensing in surface water modelling, mapping and parameter estimation is presented, and its limitations for surface water applications are also discussed.

Short summary
Hydrological data collection is a challenge for the scientific community, especially as some events e.g. floods occur in un-gauged rivers or infrequently. Some such events are however recorded by satellites. Using satellite remote sensing in estimating surface water parameters has its limitations, but recent improvements in sensor specifications, expansion in research methods and knowledge of satellite data have increased its utilization. The review is on modelling and mapping with RS.