Deep Hydrology: Hourly, Gap-Free Flood Maps Through Joint Satellite and Hydrologic Modelling

Dec 2, 2022



Climate change-driven weather disasters are rapidly increasing in both frequency and magnitude. Floods are the most damaging of these disasters, with approximately 1.46 billion people exposed to inundation depths of over 0.15m, a significant life and livelihood risk. Accurate knowledge of flood-extent for ongoing and historical events facilitates climate adaptation in flood-prone communities by enabling near real-time disaster monitoring to support planning, response, and relief during these extreme events. Satellite observations can be used to derive flood-extent maps directly; however, these observations are impeded by cloud and canopy cover, and can be very infrequent and hence miss the flood completely. In contrast, physically-based inundation models can produce spatially complete event maps but suffer from high uncertainty if not frequently calibrated with expensive land and infrastructure surveys. In this study, we propose a deep learning approach to reproduce satellite-observed fractional flood-extent maps given dynamic state variables from hydrologic models, fusing information contained within the states with direct observations from satellites. Our model has an hourly temporal resolution, contains no cloud-gaps, and generalizes to watersheds across the continental United States with a 6


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