Developing a new global network of river reaches from merged satellite-derived datasets

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Christine Lion1, George H Allen1, Edward Beighley2 and Tamlin Pavelsky1, (1)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (2)Northeastern University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Boston, MA, United States
In 2020, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite (SWOT), a joint mission of NASA/CNES/CSA/UK will be launched. One of its major products will be the measurements of continental water extent, including the width, height, and slope of rivers and the surface area and elevations of lakes. The mission will improve the monitoring of continental water and also our understanding of the interactions between different hydrologic reservoirs. For rivers, SWOT measurements of slope must be carried out over predefined river reaches. As such, an a priori dataset for rivers is needed in order to facilitate analysis of the raw SWOT data. The information required to produce this dataset includes measurements of river width, elevation, slope, planform, river network topology, and flow accumulation. To produce this product, we have linked two existing global datasets: the Global River Widths from Landsat (GRWL) database, which contains river centerline locations, widths, and a braiding index derived from Landsat imagery, and a modified version of the HydroSHEDS hydrologically corrected digital elevation product, which contains heights and flow accumulation measurements for streams at 3 arcsecond spatial resolution. Merging these two datasets requires considerable care. The difficulties, among others, lie in the difference of resolution: 30m versus 3 arseconds, and the age of the datasets: 2000 versus ~2010 (some rivers have moved, the braided sections are different). As such, we have developed custom software to merge the two datasets, taking into account the spatial proximity of river channels in the two datasets and ensuring that flow accumulation in the final dataset always increases downstream. Here, we present our preliminary results for a portion of South America and demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the method.