Delineation of Surface Water Features Using RADARSAT-2 Imagery and a TOPAZ Masking Approach over the Prairie Pothole Region in Canada
The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is one of the most rapidly changing environments in the world. In the PPR of North America, topographic depressions are common, and they are an essential water storage element in the regional hydrological system. The accurate delineation of surface water bodies is important for a variety of reasons, including conservation, environmental management, and better understanding of hydrological and climate modeling. There are numerous surface water bodies across the northern Prairie Region, making it challenging to provide near-real-time monitoring and in situ measurements of the spatial and temporal variation in the surface water area. Satellite remote sensing is the only practical approach to delineating the surface water area of Prairie potholes on an ongoing and cost-effective basis. Optical satellite imagery is able to detect surface water but only under cloud-free conditions, a substantial limitation for operational monitoring of surface water variability. However, as an active sensor, RADARSAT-2 (RS-2) has the ability to provide data for surface water detection that can overcome the limitation of optical sensors. In this research, a threshold-based procedure was developed using Fine Wide (F0W3), Wide (W2) and Standard (S3) modes to delineate the extent of surface water areas in the St. Denis and Smith Creek study basins, Saskatchewan, Canada. RS-2 thresholding results yielded a higher number of apparent water surfaces than were visible in high-resolution optical imagery (SPOT) of comparable resolution acquired at nearly the same time. TOPAZ software was used to determine the maximum possible extent of water ponding on the surface by analyzing high-resolution LiDAR-based DEM data. Removing water bodies outside the depressions mapped by TOPAZ improved the resulting images, which corresponded more closely to the SPOT surface water images. The results demonstrate the potential of TOPAZ masking for RS-2 surface water mapping used for operational purposes.
surface water mapping, Prairie Pothole Region, RADARSAT-2, TOPAZ, Remote Sensing, LiDAR-based DEM
Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Geography and Planning