Core Project: Satellite Hydrology with Emphasis on the Amazon and Congo River Basins


This project is designed to directly address the CWC water question, "Do we have enough surface water to maintain society; i.e., what is the spatial and temporal variability in terrestrial surface water storage and how can we predict these variations more accurately?" The Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission concept is specifically designed to address CWC water questions. SWOT has been reviewed and approved by the National Academy's Research Council (NRC). While SWOT will not be launched for several years, there is also an opportunity to address CWC water questions with today's operating satellites. These missions will provide a rather coarse resolution measure of surface waters, compared to SWOT, but serve to provide a baseline measurement.

The products and deliverables for this project stem from a two-fold approach: (1) analyses of existing satellite data with a goal of understanding the present distribution of surface water and (2) development and implementation of a CWC hydrologic data processing center. We will use a basin-by-basin approach starting with the tropical Amazon and Congo basins which contain the world's largest rivers. The product and deliverables from this core project will have importance for policy and related economic questions.

The SWOT mission will attract global to local attention on OSU and the CWC. Hydrologic data from this mission and other satellites are expected to be of value to international and local water resource managers, global water cycle and climate modelers, those needing improved understanding of flood hazards, coastal communities concerned with sea level rise, and water policy researchers and conflict management.


Led by Doug Alsdorf in collaboration with Brent Sohngen and C.K. Shum

Doug Alsdorf
Climate, Water, and Carbon Program

Frank Schwartz
School of Earth Sciences