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How does flood documentation and laser measurements from space can help in mapping the bathymetry of desert lakes?

May 26, 2020

Lakes in desert environments are often remote and shallow and only get filled once in a long while. They are an important water resource and could be used to decipher past environmental conditions. However, detailed maps of lake‐floor terrain, which are required to effectively study these lakes are typically not available. The deepest parts of the lakes are filled with water more frequently than their shallow margins. Thus, we suggest here to relate water occurrence in those lakes with accurate satellite‐based elevation measurements, to obtain a valuable lake‐floor terrain map. We demonstrate the usefulness of our method by comparing results with other globally available data. Previous methods struggle with complex‐terrain lakes or lakes that are partially flooded during their survey, while our method yields high‐resolution accurate maps even in such lakes.

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*Lake Eyre bathymetry mapping via integration of water occurrence data based on Landsat program imagery (left), and accurate altimetry profiles of ICESat-2 (right). See also: Armon et al. (2020); GRL; DOI:10.1029/2020GL087367.