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Boulder City, CO, United States

Syvitski J.P.M.,CSDMS Integration Facility | Overeem I.,CSDMS Integration Facility | Brakenridge G.R.,CSDMS Integration Facility | Hannon M.,CSDMS Integration Facility
Sedimentary Geology | Year: 2012

Thirty-three lowland floodplains and their associated delta plains are characterized with data from three remote sensing systems (AMSR-E, SRTM and MODIS). These data provide new quantitative information to characterize Late Quaternary floodplain landscapes and their penchant for flooding over the last decade. Daily proxy records for discharge since 2002 and for each of the 33 river systems can be derived with novel Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) methods. A descriptive framework based on analysis of Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data is used to capture the major landscape-scale floodplain elements or zones: 1) container valleys with their long and narrow pathways of largely sediment transit and bypass, 2) floodplain depressions that act as loci for frequent flooding and sediment storage, 3) zones of nodal avulsions common to many continental scale rivers, and often located seaward of container valleys, and 4) coastal floodplains and delta plains that offer both sediment bypass and storage but under the influence of marine processes. The SRTM data allow mapping of smaller-scale architectural elements in unprecedented systematic manner. Floodplain depressions were found to play a major role, which may largely be overlooked in conceptual floodplain models. Lastly, MODIS data (independently and combined with AMSR-E) allows the tracking of flood hydrographs and pathways and sedimentation patterns on a near-daily timescale worldwide. These remote-sensing data show that 85% of the studied major river systems experienced extensive flooding in the last decade. A new quantitative paradigm of floodplain processes, honoring the frequency and extent of floods, can be develop by careful analysis of these new remotely sensed data. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

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