Satellite Flood Inundation Assessment and Forecast Using SMAP and Landsat

IEEE J Sel Top Appl Earth Obs Remote Sens. 2021:14:6707-6715. doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2021.3092340. Epub 2021 Jun 25.


The capability and synergistic use of multisource satellite observations for flood monitoring and forecasts is crucial for improving disaster preparedness and mitigation. Here, surface fractional water cover (FW) retrievals derived from Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) L-band (1.4 GHz) brightness temperatures were used for flood assessment over southeast Africa during the Cyclone Idai event. We then focused on five subcatchments of the Pungwe basin and developed a machine learning based approach with the support of Google Earth Engine for daily (24-h) forecasting of FW and 30-m inundation downscaling and mapping. The Classification and Regression Trees model was selected and trained using retrievals derived from SMAP and Landsat coupled with rainfall forecasts from the NOAA Global Forecast System. Independent validation showed that FW predictions over randomly selected dates are highly correlated (R = 0.87) with the Landsat observations. The forecast results captured the flood temporal dynamics from the Idai event; and the associated 30-m downscaling results showed inundation spatial patterns consistent with independent satellite synthetic aperture radar observations. The data-driven approach provides new capacity for flood monitoring and forecasts leveraging synergistic satellite observations and big data analysis, which is particularly valuable for data sparse regions.

Keywords: Flood; Global Forecast System (GFS); Google Earth Engine (GEE); Landsat; Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP).