Pixel tracking to estimate riverswater flow elevation using cosmo-skymed synthetic aperture radar data

Filippo Biondi, Angelica Tarpanelli, Pia Addabbo, Carmine Clemente, Danilo Orlando

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The lack of availability of historical and reliable river water level information is an issue that can be overcome through the exploitation of modern satellite remote sensing systems. This research has the objective of contributing in solving the information-gap problem of river flow monitoring through a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) signal processing technique that has the capability to perform water flow elevation estimation. This paper proposes the application of a new method for the design of a robust procedure to track over the time double-bounce reflections from bridges crossing rivers to measure the gap space existing between the river surface and bridges. Specifically, the difference in position between the single and double bounce is suitably measured over the time. Simulated and satellite temporal series of SAR data from COSMO-SkyMed data are compared to the ground measurements recorded for three gauges sites over the Po and Tiber Rivers, Italy. The obtained performance indices confirm the effectiveness of the method in the estimation of water level also in narrow or ungauged rivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2574
Number of pages18
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019


  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • rivers water-flow elevation estimation
  • pixel-tracking
  • phase unwrapping

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