Near-Real Time Monitoring of Global Lakes and Reservoirs: Water Resources, Irrigation Potential and Agriculture
Birkett, C.1; Beckley, B2; Doorn, B3; Reynolds, C.3
1University of Maryland; 2SGT; 3USDA/FAS

Satellite radar altimetry has the ability to monitor variations in surface water height (stage) for large lakes and reservoirs. A clear advantage is the provision of data where traditional gauges are lacking or where there is restricted access to ground-based measurements. As part of a USDA and NASA funded program, near-real time altimetric monitoring of the largest lakes and reservoirs in the world is currently underway. Data ingestion and manipulation follows the path of the NASA Ocean Altimeter Pathfinder Project. In Phase I African lakes were under scrutiny but Phase II allowed a more global outlook. Initial focus was on the historical Topex/Poseidon archive (1992-2002) with near-real time data from the Jason-1 mission (post 2002). The project has now progressed into Phase III, where data products from the US Navy's GFO mission are being brought on-line (post 2000). Although global in outlook, the work focuses specifically on those reservoirs in prime agricultural areas particularly noting those regions that are susceptible to severe drought conditions. Reservoirs in Africa, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Iraq are of particular interest.

The project utilizes satellite radar altimetry datasets and delivers graphic and text file products relating to elevation changes to a world-wide web site. Height accuracies vary from a few cm rms to tens of centimeters rms depending on target size and terrain. Product delivery time for the Jason-1 mission is 2weeks after satellite overpass accounting for raw data availability, satellite orbit upgrades, and weekly product updates at NASA/GSFC. The lake products are primarily used by the Foreign Agricultural Service’s, Precipitation Estimation and Crop Assessment Division (PECAD), for observation of flood/drought conditions and for the analysis of reservoir volume and irrigation potential.


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