Scientists at the University of Glasgow have pioneered a method for monitoring river flows using satellite analysis, offering an advanced early warning system for flood risk. Current methods rely on expensive and challenging-to-install stream gauges, limiting coverage, especially in remote areas. The Glasgow researchers utilized video footage from a Chinese satellite to measure river discharge during a February 2022 flood along a 12-mile section of Australia's Darling River. By tracking visible surface features in the footage and combining it with detailed elevation maps, they achieved flow discharge estimates within 15% of measurements from traditional gauges. The technology, providing real-time insights and overcoming limitations like cloud cover, could significantly improve flood prediction and response worldwide, benefiting communities facing increasing climate change-induced weather unpredictability.
The team’s paper, titled ‘Satellite Video Remote Sensing for Estimation of River Discharge’, is published in Geophysical Research Letters.