U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Hydrol. Process. (2011) p. 1-12; DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8268


This work proposes a method for detecting inundation between semi-diurnal low and high water conditions in the northern Gulf of Mexico using high-resolution satellite imagery. Radarsat 1, Landsat imagery and aerial photography from the Apalachicola region in Florida were used to demonstrate and validate the algorithm. A change detection approach was implemented through the analysis of red, green and blue (RGB) false colour composites image to emphasise differences in high and low tide inundation patterns. To alleviate the effect of inherent speckle in the SAR images, we also applied ancillary optical data. The flood-prone area for the site was delineated a priori through the determination of lower and higher water contour lines with Landsat images combined with a high-resolution digital elevation model. This masking technique improved the performance of the proposed algorithm with respect to detection techniques using the entire Radarsat scene. The resulting inundation maps agreed well with historical aerial photography as the probability of detection reached 83%. The combination of SAR data and optical images, when coupled with a high-resolution digital elevation model, was shown to be useful for inundation mapping and have a great potential for evaluating wetting/drying algorithms of inland and coastal hydrodynamic models.