Design of Airborne Surface Water Elevation Observation Campaigns for Improved Hydrodynamic Modeling of Deltas

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Claire Michailovsky1, Ernesto Rodriguez2 and Konstantinos Andreadis1, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
Traditional hydrological monitoring relies on frequent water level measurements at discrete locations, and in complex environments this type of measurement may not be able to capture the spatial variability of the hydrodynamic processes. While remote sensing, whether air-or-spaceborne, has made spatially distributed measurements of surface waters possible, the frequency of data acquisition is typically too low for most hydrological applications and the data is often used in conjunction with hydrological or hydrodynamic models.

The new AirSWOT instrument provides spatially distributed measurements of water surface elevation from an airborne platform and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of its test areas. Our objective was to assess the value of such measurements to hydrodynamic modeling in the Delta and to evaluate the necessary spatial and temporal coverage needed for the data to improve on current monitoring capabilities. To achieve this, a synthetic data assimilation experiment was designed: a hydrodynamic model of the Delta was built and run using in situ observations to produce a “true” run and sets of synthetic AirSWOT measurements, covering different locations and at different times, were generated using an instrument simulator. An ensemble of perturbed runs was then generated by perturbing the boundary conditions and the synthetic data sets were assimilated using the ensemble Kalman Filter. The impact of the assimilation on the hydrodynamic model performance was studied for the different sets of synthetic data in order to identify the most sensitive measurement times and locations and help improve the design of future measurement campaigns.