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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Assessing the capabilities of the SWOT mission for large lake water surface elevation monitoring under different wind conditions

Jean Bergeron1, Gabriela Siles1, Robert Leconte1, Mélanie Trudel1, Damien Desroches2, and Daniel L. Peters3 Jean Bergeron et al.
  • 1Département de génie civil, Faculté de génie, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 Boul. Université, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada
  • 2Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 3Watershed Hydrology and Ecology Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, V8W 3R4, Canada

Abstract. Lakes are important sources of freshwater and provide essential ecosystem services. Monitoring their spatial and temporal variability, as well as of their functions, is an important task within the development of sustainable water management strategies. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will provide continuous information on the dynamics of continental (rivers, lakes, wetlands and reservoirs) and ocean water bodies. This work aims to contribute to the international effort evaluating the SWOT satellite (2022 launch) performance for water balance assessment over large lakes (e.g., > 100 km2). For this purpose, a hydrodynamic model was set up over Mamawi Lake, Canada, and different wind scenarios on lake hydrodynamics were simulated. The derived water surface elevations (WSE) were compared to synthetic elevations produced by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) SWOT high resolution (SWOT-HR) simulator. Moreover, water storages and net flows were retrieved from different possible SWOT orbital configurations, as well as synthetic gauge measurements. In general, a good agreement was found between the WSE simulated from the model and those mimicked by the SWOT-HR simulator. Depending on the wind scenario, errors ranged between approximately −2 and 5 cm for mean error, and 30 to 70 cm root mean square error. Low spatial coverage of the lake was found to generate important biases in the retrievals of water volume or net flow between two satellite passes in the presence of local heterogeneities in WSE. However, the precision of retrievals was found to increase as spatial coverage increases, becoming more reliable than the retrievals from 3 synthetic gauges when spatial coverage approaches 100 %, demonstrating the capabilities of the future SWOT mission in monitoring dynamic WSE for large lakes across Canada.

Jean Bergeron et al.

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Jean Bergeron et al.

Jean Bergeron et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We want to assess how well the SWOT satellite mission will be able to provide information on lake surface water elevation and how much of an impact wind conditions (speed and direction) can have on these retrievals.
We want to assess how well the SWOT satellite mission will be able to provide information on...