Coupling threshold theory and satellite-derived channel width to estimate the formative discharge of Himalayan foreland rivers

Gaurav, Kumar; Métivier, François; A V Sreejith,; Sinha, Rajiv; Kumar, Amit; Tandon, Sampat Kumar

We propose an innovative methodology to estimate the formative discharge of alluvial rivers from remote sensing images. This procedure involves automatic extraction of the width of a channel from Landsat Thematic Mapper, Landsat 8, and Sentinel-1 satellite images. We translate the channel width extracted from satellite images to discharge using a width–discharge regime curve established previously by us for the Himalayan rivers. This regime curve is based on the threshold theory, a simple physical force balance that explains the first-order geometry of alluvial channels. Using this procedure, we estimate the formative discharge of six major rivers of the Himalayan foreland: the Brahmaputra, Chenab, Ganga, Indus, Kosi, and Teesta rivers. Except highly regulated rivers (Indus and Chenab), our estimates of the discharge from satellite images can be compared with the mean annual discharge obtained from historical records of gauging stations. We have shown that this procedure applies both to braided and single-thread rivers over a large territory. Furthermore, our methodology to estimate discharge from remote sensing images does not rely on continuous ground calibration.

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Gaurav, Kumar / Métivier, François / A V Sreejith, / et al: Coupling threshold theory and satellite-derived channel width to estimate the formative discharge of Himalayan foreland rivers. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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