Anticipating the Role of SWOT in Hydrologic and Hydrodynamic Modeling
Abstract:The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission is a joint project of NASA and CNES, the French space agency. It aims to provide the first simultaneous, space-based measurements of inundation extent and water surface elevation in rivers, lakes, and wetlands around the world. Although the orbit repeat time is approximately 21 days, many areas of the earth will be viewed multiple times during this window. SWOT will observe rivers as narrow as 50-100 m and lakes as small as 0.01-0.06 km2, with height accuracies of ~10 cm for water bodies 1 km2 in area. Because SWOT will measure temporal variations in the height, width, and slope of rivers, several algorithms have been developed to estimate river discharge solely from SWOT measurements. Additionally, measurements of lake height and area will allow estimation of variability in lake water storage.
These new hydrologic measurements will provide important sources of information both hydrologic and hydrodynamic models at regional to global scales. SWOT-derived estimates of water storage change and discharge will help to constrain simulation of the water budget in hydrologic models. Measurements of water surface elevation will provide similar constraints on hydrodynamic models of river flow. SWOT data will be useful for model calibration and validation, but perhaps the most exciting applications involve assimilation of SWOT data into models to enhance model robustness and provide denser temporal sampling than available from SWOT observations alone.