Detectability of variation in river flood from satellite images

Yukiko Hirabayashi, Haireti Alifu, Dai Yamazaki, ‪Gennadii Donchyts, Yuki Kimura
Received 2021/04/05, Accepted 2021/05/18, Published 2021/06/22

Yukiko Hirabayashi1), Haireti Alifu1), Dai Yamazaki2), ‪Gennadii Donchyts3), Yuki Kimura4)

1) Department of Civil Engineering, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan
2) Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan
3) Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
4) Corporate Planning Department, MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting, Inc., Japan

Floods are major natural disasters that have considerable consequences worldwide. As the frequency and magnitude of flooding are expected to be affected by ongoing climate change, understanding their past changes is important for developing adequate adaptation measures. However, the limited spatiotemporal coverage of flood gauges hinders detection of changes in flooding, particularly in poorly gauged regions. Here, we propose a method using surface water data of river floodplain inundation as a proxy of the magnitude and frequency of flooding. Surface water data − Aqua Monitor which represented the probability linear trend changes in land and water surface area based on 30-m Landsat images between 1984–2000 and 2000–2013 was used in this study. The changes in water surface area over the floodplain obtained from Aqua Monitor showed high correspondence with historical trends observed or simulated annual maximum daily discharge, indicating the potential to detect changes in frequency and magnitude of flood from satellite data. In regions where changes could be measured with sufficient satellite images, 29% showed an increase in water surface area in the flood plain, 41% showed a decrease, and 30% showed small or no changes.

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Copyright (c) 2021 The Author(s) CC-BY 4.0

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