Radar remote sensing for levee health assessment in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Monday, 15 December 2014
Priyanka Sharma1, Cathleen E Jones1, Joel Dudas2, Gerald W Bawden3 and Steven J Deverel4, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento, CA, United States, (3)US Geological Survey, Sacramento, CA, United States, (4)HYDROFOCUS, INC., Davis, CA, United States
Levees and dikes form extensive flood protection infrastructure that often also serve critical water conveyance functions. We have studied the use of radar remote sensing for providing health assessment of levees, focusing on California’s levee system. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which lies directly east of San Francisco Bay, is an area comprised of tidal marshland and reclaimed land in the form of ~60 islands surrounded by 1700 km of levees. Improved knowledge of subsidence across the region is needed to maintain the integrity of the Delta levee system, which protects the integrity and quality of the state’s primary water supply. The western Delta is particularly critical because levee failure in this area would rapidly draw water of high salinity content into the channels conveying the fresh water supply. Here we report on a study that uses radar interferometry to measure the spatially and temporally varied levee movement and subsidence in the area, focusing particularly on Sherman Island, the westernmost island of the Delta. We use data from NASA's L-band (23.79 cm) Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) collected at 6-week average interval from July 2009 through the current day. We show preliminary results for localized movement on and near the levees and for island-scale subsidence and discuss the techniques used for these measurements and how they could contribute to emergency response.