14 Nov 2022
14 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Hydrological regime of Sahelian small water bodies from combined Sentinel-2 MSI and Sentinel-3 SRAL data

Mathilde de Fleury, Laurent Kergoat, and Manuela Grippa Mathilde de Fleury et al.
  • Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (GET), UMR 5563, Université Toulouse 3, CNRS, IRD, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, OMP, 31400 Toulouse cedex 9, France

Abstract. In the Sahelian semi-arid region, water resources, especially small water bodies such as ponds, small lakes and reservoirs in rural areas, are of vital importance. However, because of their high number and the scarce in situ monitoring networks, these resources and their spatio-temporal variability are poorly known at the regional scale. This study investigates the hydrological regime of 37 small water bodies, located in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, in Central Sahel. We propose a method based on remote sensing data only, which consists of combining water height data from Sentinel-3 SAR Radar Altimeter (SRAL) with water area data obtained with Sentinel-2 Multispectral Instrument (MSI) to create dense water height time series. Water height variations are then compared to evaporation estimated by the Penman--Monteith method using ERA5 reanalysis by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to infer water regimes during the dry season. Three main regimes stand out: a net water loss, mainly resulting from anthropogenic withdrawals, a net water supply occurring after the end of the rainy season through river network or water table exchange, and a balanced behaviour, where water losses during the dry season closely correspond to evaporation rates. Spatial patterns have been identified: in central Burkina Faso, most of the reservoirs show a net dry season water loss, which is explained by frequent irrigation, while reservoirs in northern Burkina Faso, generally show little water loss, indicating that water withdrawal is not significant in this area. Lakes located in the Inner Niger Delta in Mali and connected to the Niger river network generally show an important water supply, particularly at the beginning of the dry season. Lakes in Niger tend to show a weak signal toward water inflow that could be explained by exchange processes with the groundwater. These results show that satellite data are effective in estimating hydrological regimes as well as the anthropogenic impact on water resources, at the large scale, including resources found in small water bodies.

Mathilde de Fleury et al.

Status: open (until 09 Jan 2023)

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Mathilde de Fleury et al.

Mathilde de Fleury et al.


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Short summary
This study surveys small lakes and reservoirs, which are vital resources in the Sahel, through a multi-sensor satellite approach. Water height changes compared to evaporation losses in dry seasons highlight anthropogenic withdrawals and water supplies due to river and groundwater connections. Some reservoirs display weak withdrawals suggesting low usage may be due to security issues. The satellite derived water balance, thus proved effective in estimating water resources in semi-arid areas.