Estimation of River Characteristics from Remote Sensing Data | SRI International

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Estimation of River Characteristics from Remote Sensing Data

SRI algorithms provide estimates of river characteristics from overhead imagery and drifter data. 

Knowledge of river characteristics and the surrounding environment are important for civil and military applications. While tools for computational modeling of river flow are well developed, SRI is taking these tools to the next level as researchers develop new approaches to estimate river characteristics for operational use. 

SRI is combining existing modeling capabilities with data from emerging in situ and remote sensors that measure surface characteristics of flowing rivers. SRI researchers have developed the Remote River Survey (R2S) System, which uses a river flow model and a gradient-based, iterative approach within a variational inverse modeling framework to estimate river characteristics from available data. 

The R2S system incorporates data from remote-sensing instruments, riverine drifters and/or overhead imagery to estimate river characteristics such as bathymetry (depth) and flow velocity for operational use. This capability has been demonstrated on multiple sets of remote-sensing and field observational data for multiple rivers, and the results have been impressive.

In one example, the R2S system was applied to a 95 km reach of the upper Columbia River using surface velocity data derived from airborne time-series imagery. Estimates of the bathymetry were used to compute water depths during the data collection period that had an RMS error of less than 2 m. 

Research and development activities described were supported by Office of Naval Research, N00014-11-C-0317 and N00014-09-C-0225.