A hydraulic model of the Amur River informed by ICESat-2 elevation

Peter Bauer-Gottwein*, Elena Zakharova, Monica Coppo Frías, Heidi Ranndal, Karina Nielsen, Linda Christoffersen, Jun Liu, Liguang Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Accurate predictions of water surface elevation (WSE) in rivers at high spatial and temporal resolution are important for flood/drought risk assessment and flood/drought forecasting and management. WSE in a river is controlled by three main factors: discharge, riverbed geometry, and hydraulic roughness. In remote and poorly instrumented rivers, both discharge and riverbed geometry are highly uncertain and WSE is therefore hard to predict. ICESat-2 laser altimetry provides accurate elevation transects across the river at very high spatial resolution (70 cm along track). This paper demonstrates how ICESat-2 elevation transects can be used to parameterize a basin-scale hydraulic model of a continental-scale river. The workflow is demonstrated for the transboundary Amur River in North-East Asia. Simulated WSE is subsequently validated against a large dataset of in-situ and satellite altimetry observations and we demonstrate that the model can reproduce available WSE observations throughout the basin with an accuracy of 1-2 meters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)2027-2041
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • ICESat-2
  • Satellite altimetry
  • Hydrodynamic modelling
  • Amur River
  • Riverbed geometry


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