UCLA geographers predict river discharge with satellite data

By on March 28, 2014

Satellite image of the Mississippi River from the Landsat program (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Geographers at UCLA have come up with a way to predict a river’s discharge using satellite measurements, according to a release. The method relies on a photographed river’s width.

Other prediction methods depend on ground-based measurements to track a river’s discharge, including its depth and velocity. But because of terrain or financial concerns, researchers say it’s not always possible to collect those figures.

A comparative study shows that the method can fill in some gaps, but isn’t foolproof. It estimates a river’s flow to about 20 percent accuracy.

Full details of the technique are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Image: Satellite image of the Mississippi River from the Landsat program (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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