Niger discharge from radar altimetry: bridging gaps between gauge and altimetry time series

Schröder, Stefan; Springer, Anne; Kusche, Jürgen; Uebbing, Bernd; Fenoglio-Marc, Luciana; Diekkrüger, Bernd; Poméon, Thomas

The Niger River represents a challenging target for deriving discharge from spaceborne radar altimeter measurements, particularly since most terrestrial gauges ceased to provide data during the 2000s. Here, we propose deriving altimetric rating curves by “bridging” gaps between time series from gauge and altimeter measurements using hydrological model simulations. We show that classical pulse-limited altimetry (Jason-1 and Jason-2, Envisat, and SARAL/Altika) subsequently reproduces discharge well and enables continuing the gauge time series, albeit at a lower temporal resolution. Also, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) altimetry picks up the signal measured by earlier altimeters quite well and allows the building of extended time series of higher quality. However, radar retracking is necessary for pulse-limited altimetry and needs to be further investigated for SAR. Moreover, forcing data for calibrating and running the hydrological models must be chosen carefully. Furthermore, stage–discharge relations must be fitted empirically and may need to allow for break points.

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Schröder, Stefan / Springer, Anne / Kusche, Jürgen / et al: Niger discharge from radar altimetry: bridging gaps between gauge and altimetry time series. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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