From this week, researchers worldwide can follow the flow of rivers and height of lakes across the African continent from the comfort of their desks. A new web-based demonstration launched to coincide with this weeks TIGER Workshop makes Envisat-derived altimetry data for African inland water freely available in near-real time.
Envisats Radar Altimeter-2 (RA-2) sensor fires around 1800 radar pulses a second down to the surface of the Earth, then measures very precisely how long it takes for those pulses to bounce back. This travel time can be used to calculate the height of the Earths oceans, ice masses, land surfaces, and also – thanks to a sophisticated algorithm developed by the UKs De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester under ESA contract – previously elusive results for rivers and lakes flowing over land.
The effort to develop the River and Lake product was led by Professor Philippa Berry of DMUs Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory: "Monitoring of water resources is vital over Africa, to enable best use of this precious commodity. Until now reliable information has been difficult to access because of the high cost in equipment, manpower and communications, and because it is difficult to obtain these precious hydrological data from many countries.
Jerome Benveniste | alfa
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