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Flood extent maps that are derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images provide spatially distributed data for validating hydraulic models of river flood flow. The accuracy of such maps is reduced by a number of factors, including variation in backscatter from the different land cover types that are adjacent to the flood, changes in returns from the water surface that are caused by different meteorological conditions, and the presence of emergent vegetation. This paper describes how improved accuracy can be achieved by modifying an existing flood extent delineation algorithm to use airborne laser altimetry [light detection and ranging (lidar)] as well as SAR data. The lidar data provide an additional constraint that water line heights should vary smoothly along the flooded reach. The method was tested on a SAR image of a flood for which contemporaneous aerial photography existed, together with lidar data of the un flooded reach. The water line heights of the SAR flood extent that was conditioned on both SAR and lidar data matched the corresponding heights from the aerial photograph water line significantly more closely than those from the SAR flood extent that was conditioned only on SAR data. For water line heights in areas of low slope and vegetation, the root-mean-square error on the height differences reduced from 221.1 cm for the latter case to 55.5 cm for the former.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:45 , Issue: 12 )
Date of Publication: Dec. 2007