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Record flood in the Amazon basin

After months of intense rains, the Amazon basin sustains record floods. Satellite altimetry can make a major contribution for monitoring fluctuations in continental waters.

Persistent and intense rains over the upstream Amazon basin since September 2011 exceeded water levels in continental waters. These high water levels fed many tributaries and strongly impacted a huge number of people. These people will still affected by diseases or homeless once the waters will begin to recede. .

Satellite remote-sensing techniques and in particularly, satellite altimetry have enabled new hydrological applications to be developed for monitoring fluctuations in continental waters. 

Here, we use the Jason-2 data provided by Pistach project (IGDR products with a specific treatment adapted to continental waters) from July 2008 to today to plot water level time series in several points where the Jason-2 ground tracks overfly the waters. From these time series below, we can see that the current peak flood overpasses the previous ones occurred in 2009 and 2011. The 2012 peak flood occurred in April in upstream basin whereas the water levels is not yet begin to decrease in downstream areas.



Time series (in julian days) of altimetry-derived heights (in meters) in the Amazon basin from upstream (top left, nearby the town of Iquitos) to downstream (bottom right, nearby the town of Manaus) areas.
These measurements were done with the Jason-2 data under pass 026, 013, 102, 241 and 063, from cycle 1 (July 2008) to cycle 143 (end of May 2012) and are provided by Pistach project (IGDR products with a specific treatment adapted to continental waters).
The exact latitudes coordinates for a given ground track are shown when clicking on each image. Use the pass locator to locate the ground track with Google Earth. Use the calendar tool to convert julian days to calendar days. Credits CLS/Cnes.

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