Using computational modeling of river flow with remotely sensed data to infer channel bathymetry

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As part of an ongoing investigation into the use of computational river flow and morphodynamic models for the purpose of correcting and extending remotely sensed river datasets, a simple method for inferring channel bathymetry is developed and discussed. The method is based on an inversion of the equations expressing conservation of mass and momentum to develop equations that can be solved for depth given known values of vertically-averaged velocity and water-surface elevation. The ultimate goal of this work is to combine imperfect remotely sensed data on river planform, water-surface elevation and water-surface velocity in order to estimate depth and other physical parameters of river channels. In this paper, the technique is examined using synthetic data sets that are developed directly from the application of forward two-and three-dimensional flow models. These data sets are constrained to satisfy conservation of mass and momentum, unlike typical remotely sensed field data sets. This provides a better understanding of the process and also allows assessment of how simple inaccuracies in remotely sensed estimates might propagate into depth estimates. The technique is applied to three simple cases: First, depth is extracted from a synthetic dataset of vertically averaged velocity and water-surface elevation; second, depth is extracted from the same data set but with a normally-distributed random error added to the water-surface elevation; third, depth is extracted from a synthetic data set for the same river reach using computed water-surface velocities (in place of depth-integrated values) and water-surface elevations. In each case, the extracted depths are compared to the actual measured depths used to construct the synthetic data sets (with two- and three-dimensional flow models). Errors in water-surface elevation and velocity that are very small degrade depth estimates and cannot be recovered. Errors in depth estimates associated with assuming water-surface velocities equal to depth-integrated velocities are substantial, but can be reduced with simple corrections.

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Using computational modeling of river flow with remotely sensed data to infer channel bathymetry
Year Published 2012
Language English
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Title IAHR Riverflow 2012 Conference Proceedings
First page 761
Last page 768
Conference Title IAHR Riverflow 2012 Conference
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