Space-based measurement of river runoff



Observations of river inundation areas, water levels, and flow variability from orbital sensors have the potential to directly measure the runoff component of the Earth's hydrologic cycle [Birkett et al., 2002; Brakenridge et al., 1998; Sippel et al., 1994, 1998; Townsend, 2001]. A remote-sensing-based measurement strategy for rivers and streams is emerging: Surface water data can be collected, their accuracy evaluated, and the results disseminated without regard to political boundaries. The results can be used to address a wide variety of applications.

In this article, the needs for such measurements, a river reach-based methodology for their collection, and some sample results are presented. Because the international observational capability is increasing, some future opportunities for improving this strategy are also described.