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InSAR-based hydrology of the Everglades, South Florida

Shimon Wdowinski(1) and Richard Carande(2)

(1) University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, FL 33149-1098, United States
(2) Vexcel Corporation, 4909 Nautilus Court, Boulder CO 80301, United States

Abstract

The Everglades region in south Florida is a unique ecological environment. Anthropogenic changes in the past 50 years, mainly for water supply, agricultural development and flood control purposes, have disrupted natural water flow and severely impacted the regional ecosystem. Currently, Evergladesí flow is controlled by a series of structures (e.g., levies, gates), which provide a large-scale natural laboratory for monitoring and modeling wetland surface flow. Evergladesí water level is currently monitored by about 100 stations, about half of which provide real-time data.

We use space-based Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to monitor water level variations in the entire Everglades region with a high spatial resolution (~30 x 30 m2). Our data consists of three 225x75 km2 swaths of eastern South Florida, acquired in June, August and December 1994 by the L-band (1.275 GHz) JERS satellite. A comparison between the space-based InSAR observations and 20 ground- truth stage station data points shows a remarkable agreement. The most significant water level changes are obtained in the northern section of the study area, known as Water Conservation Areas (WCA) 1, 2A, and 2B. Our results show dynamic water topography caused by gate operation on man-made levees. The data show up to 1 m of elevation difference across 5-15 km length scale. We detected both regional N-S unidirectional and radial topography patterns.

We model the dynamic water topography using 1-D unidirectional and radial diffusion flow models. Our models allow us to determine a regional-scale flow conductivity parameter, which reflects the resistance to water flow due to vegetation. Future 2-D numerical flow models will enable us to determine local variations of the conductivity parameter as well as better tools for modeling and managing surface flow in the Everglades.

 

Full paper

Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre, earth observation, satellite remote sensing, teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar, chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar, atmospheric chemistry