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An innovative flood-prediction framework is developed using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission precipitation forcing and a proxy for river discharge from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Aqua satellite. The AMSR-E-detected water surface signal was correlated with in situ measurements of streamflow in the Okavango Basin in Southern Africa as indicated by a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.90. A distributed hydrologic model, with structural data sets derived from remote-sensing data, was calibrated to yield simulations matching the flood frequencies from the AMSR-E-detected water surface signal. Model performance during a validation period yielded a Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency of 0.84. We concluded that remote-sensing data from microwave sensors could be used to supplement stream gauges in large sparsely gauged or ungauged basins to calibrate hydrologic models. Given the global availability of all required data sets, this approach can be potentially expanded to improve flood monitoring and prediction in sparsely gauged basins throughout the world.
Date of Publication: July 2012