Remote sensing‐based modeling of the bathymetry and water storage for channel‐type reservoirs worldwide

Estimations of reservoir bathymetry and storage are of great significance due to their substantial impacts on hydrological processes and water resource management. However, existing approaches for reservoir bathymetry construction often rely on field measurements, which restricts their application at regional and global scales. This study proposes a novel Approach for Determining the BAthymetry and water storage of channel‐type Reservoirs, hereafter referred to as ADBAR, for which only open‐access digital elevation model (DEM) and satellite images are required. The basic idea of ADBAR is to utilize the geomorphological similarity and topographical continuity of the reservoir inundation area with its lateral valleys and upstream/downstream regions to predict underwater bathymetry. Forty‐eight reservoirs with different topographic and geometric characteristics were selected for method validation. The selected reservoirs were all impounded after the year 2000, so the modeled reservoir bathymetry can be validated by the “reference” reservoir storage calculated using the exposed topography in SRTM DEM and the mapped water extents from spectral images. The difference between the estimated and reference storages is about 13% on average. Furthermore, the modeled results in two selected basins with dense reservoir distributions, the Upper Yellow River Basin in China and the Tocantins River Basin in Brazil, are comparable with the documented effective storage capacities. The validations for both individual reservoirs and the two large basins demonstrate that ADBAR is a robust tool for estimating reservoir bathymetries and storage capacities and thus facilitates the modeling of reservoir impacts on water budgets at large and global scales.

Kai Liu, Chunqiao Song, Jida Wang et al. 2020. Water Resources Research. DOI: