Project Details


    This proposal is made is response to RFQ ENVI-DTEX-EOPS-SW-07-0009. The pilot
    system which produces river and lake heights from EnviSat Near Real Time (NRT)
    altimeter data, has been running successfully for some time and has already attracted a
    significant userbase. However, analysis of the system and outputs, together with research
    progression since the design of the original system and significant user feedback, has
    identified critical enhancements to increase the usefulness of these data, both in terms of
    enhanced products from the EnviSat RA-2, and by increasing the system capability to
    handle Jason-1 NRT data; this proposal addresses these issues.
    The dissemination of these products and penetration of the ‘traditional’ hydrological
    community can also be greatly enhanced using a two pronged approach: firstly, by
    increasing the capability of the web based server and the associated outreach programme,
    to ensure that potential users are made aware of these unique datasets and secondly, by
    engaging directly with the hydrological community to address what is seen as the major
    limitation of these data: the temporal sampling. Whilst for a large lake, crossed by
    several tracks, the measurement temporal repeat will only be a few days, there is a
    fundamental difference with river networks. Here, where the unique ability of the RA-2
    to maintain lock on the underlying surface allows the measurement at multiple locations
    along the earth’s major rivers, the temporal sampling of 35 days is perceived as a critical
    constraint by the hydrological user community.
    Experience with satellite oceanography suggests a remedy: incorporate these data into a
    model, and thus integrate the measurements occurring at various locations along the river
    system, either directly or as constraints on the model. In the developing world, where the
    number of gauged catchments is continually falling and the rainfall measurements are
    patchy at best, these data potentially provide a critical, and in many cases the only
    possible information to monitor the earth’s surface inland water resources. However, the
    very scarcity of rainfall data creates problems for hydrologists for whom this is the
    primary key input. Accordingly, this proposal includes small studies from three groups
    of river modellers, selected from the existing userbase of R&L data users. Each group
    uses different hydrological modelling techniques and different proposed approaches, and
    five river systems have been selected for this work, chosen as presenting a range of
    different river types and geographical locations for which this approach is likely to be
    viable. One river, the Mekong, is included from two groups, to assess the impact of
    different hydrological approaches where the input altimeter data are identical for both.
    It is proposed to publish the results of this work both on the River and Lake website and
    as widely as possible at conferences and in the literature, to inform the wider
    hydrological community of viable methods for including altimeter heights in their river
    monitoring programmes, and stimulate a much wider market for these unique data.
    Effective start/end date01/12/200731/12/2008


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