Characterizing 13 Years of Surface Water Variability from MODIS-based Near Real-Time Flood Mapping Products in the Indus River, Tonle Sap Lake, and Lake Chad.

Publication Date : 2015-12-01
Author : Slayback, D. A.Brakenridge, G. R.Policelli, F. S.
Countries :
Disaster Management Theme :
Disaster Type : Flood
Document Type : Research Paper
Languange : en
Link :

Abstact :

Driven by an increase in extreme weather events in a warming world, flooding appears to be increasing in many regions. Since 2012, we have been using the twice-daily near-global observations of the two MODIS instruments to operate a near real-time flood mapping capability. Primarily intended to support disaster response efforts, our system generates daily near-global maps of flood water extent, at 250 m resolution. Although cloud cover is a challenge, the twice-daily coverage from the Terra and Aqua satellites helps to capture most major events. We use the MOD44W product (the MODIS 250-m land-water mask) to differentiate normal water from flood water. Products from the system are freely available, and used by disaster response agencies and academic and industry researchers. An open question, however, is: how normal are recently observed floods? Destructive and — as reported by the press — record floods seem to be occurring more and more frequently. With the MODIS archive going back to 1999 (Terra satellite) and 2002 (Aqua satellite), we now have more than a decade of twice-daily near-global observations to begin answering this question. Although the 13 years of available twice-daily data (2002-2015) are not sufficient to fully characterize surface water normals (e.g., 100-year floods), we can start examining recent trends in surface water extent and flood frequency. To do so, we have back-processed our surface water product through mid-2002 (Aqua launch) for a few regions, and have used this to evaluate the variability in surface water extent and flood frequency. These results will eventually feed back into an improved characterization of flood water in our near real-time flood product. Here we will present results on trends in surface water extent and flood frequency for a few regions, including the Indus in Pakistan, the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia, and lake Chad in Africa.