Science Service System
You are here : Home : Proposals_Summary

Summary of Proposal HYD0605

TitleMonitoring wetland extent and water level in the Great Lakes Basin
Investigator Pregitzer, Marilee - Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada
Team Member
Research Scientist Brisco, Brian - Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada
Mr. Robertson, Mike - Land Information Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
NWI Coordinate Huberty, Brian - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Applied Research Coo Poitevin, Jean - Ecological Integrity Branch, Parks Canada Agency
SummaryThe Great Lakes Basin is the most important freshwater resource in both Canada and the United States from both economic and environmental considerations. The wetlands have been under extreme pressure due to both urbanization and the conversion to farmland. Water levels have fluctuated widely over the past decades. These problems are becoming more important both from an environmental perspective and from a political perspective as the public puts more emphasis on environmental stewardship by the government. Wetlands are critical to the ecological health of an environment and play important infrastructure roles in both water quality and quantity. It is therefore critical that effective tools are in place for the efficient and effective monitoring and management of water levels and wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin. The only tools available to collect fresh water resource related information over extensive areas are remote sensing satellites. Among the many satellites available, those equipped with radar sensors are particularly well suited for application to the mapping and monitoring of surface water because, firstly, water bodies show very well in radar images and, secondly, radar images can be acquired independent of cloud cover and daylight. Indeed, new technological advances in SAR methodology including interferometry and polarimetry have been used in development of techniques for mapping wetland extent and wetland classification as well as for water level determination. Optical data for lake monitoring are limited by a number of factors: sun-glint off lake surfaces in aerial photographs can make automated classification unreliable, optical satellite data are limited by cloud cover and in particular the fact that cloud shadows cover a relatively larger area at high latitudes, and also, smoke from wildfires can obscure a scene. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite data, being independent of cloud and smoke cover and not subject to sun-glint, therefore offer the most reliable data stream for monitoring water bodies. Radar in general and RADARSAT-1 in particular is very good at detecting open surface water and has been used operationally for flood monitoring in many countries. This project will use multi-frequency SAR data (Terra-X and Radarsat-2) augmented with optical and ancillary ground information in order to monitor the wetland extent and water level in the Great Lakes basin on a seasonal basis. The double bounce scattering, easily detected using polarimetric analyses, will be used to map the flooded vegetation, while surface water extent will be extracted using existing software tools. SAR interferometry will be used to determine water levels at key sites in the basin. Our expected outcome with this project is to finally be able to map water and wetland extent as well as changes over time for the Great Lakes Basin. Our expected benefit will be more accurate management of our water and wetland resources resulting in better water use, recreation, fisheries and wildlife habitat.

Back to list of proposals

DLR 2004-2016