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A Promising Radar Altimetry Satellite System for Operational Flood Forecasting in Flood-Prone Bangladesh

  • Turk, F. J.
  • Shum, C. K.
  • Biancamaria, S.
  • Bajracahrya, B.
  • Shrestha, B.
  • Pradhan, S.
  • Lee, H.
  • Limaye, A.
  • Shah-Newaz, S. M.
  • Hossain, M.
  • Ahmed, T.
  • Mazumdar, L. C.
  • Yigzaw, W.
  • Siddique-E-Akbor, A. H.
  • Maswood, M.
  • Hossain, F.

Building on a recent suite of work that has demonstrated theoretical feasibility and operational readiness of a satellite altimeter based flood forecasting system, we recently put a progressively designed altimeter based transboundary flood forecasting system to the ultimate test of real-time operational delivery in Bangladesh. The JASON-2 satellite altimeter, which was in orbit at the time of writing this manuscript, was used as the flagship altimeter mission. This paper summarizes the entire process of designing the system, customizing the workflow, and putting the system in place for complete ownership by the Bangladesh stakeholder agency for a 100 day operational skill test spanning the period of June 1 2013 through Sept. 9, 2013. Correlation for most of the flood warning stations ranged between 0.95 to 0.80 during the 1 day to 8 days lead time range. The RMSE of forecast typically ranged between 0.75m to 1.5m at locations where the danger level relative to the river bed was more than an order higher (i.e., >20m). The RMSE of forecast at the 8 days lead time did not exceed 2m for upstream and mid-stream rivers inside Bangladesh. The RMSE of forecast at the 8 days lead time exceeded 2m at a few estuarine river locations affected by tidal effects, where danger level relative to river bed was smaller (i.e., <20m). Such a satellite altimeter system, such as one based on the JASON-2 altimeter, is now poised to serve the entire inhabitants of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basins as well as 30 or more flood-prone downstream nations currently deprived of real-time flow data from upstream nations.

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