During summer 2020, the most catastrophic flood in the 21st century attacked the Poyang Lake region, one of the flood-prone areas in China. To explore the occurrence mechanism and evolution patterns of this drought-converted flood better, a full lifecycle model is developed in this article. Employing Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images, with the advantages of high spatial–temporal resolution and all-day and all-weather working capacity, a bimodal threshold was applied to efficiently extract flood inundation mapping. Thus, 61 Sentinel-1 SAR images in 2020 were used to establish inundation sequences for full lifecycle monitoring. This flood presented an abrupt transformation from drought, a long duration, and the slow receding of water, and its area exceeded 3000 km2
from July to early October. In addition, inundation models that reflect the lake area and water level relationship were introduced to assist near-real-time monitoring. Through hydrological and meteorological analysis, compared with results of previous years (from 2010 to 2019), this study found that the water level from July to October in 2020 was at least 17% higher than the mean level at the same period in history and water volume had increased about 44.13 billion m3
during the flooding period. Similarly, the average precipitation from June to September was significantly higher than the same period of previous years. It was the abnormal sustained heavy precipitation and sharp rising of the water level that caused this catastrophic flood. In particular, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) increased from −1.02 in April to 1.31 in July, indicating that the flood was abruptly converted from drought. The inundated areas of several land types during different periods of the full lifecycle were calculated for damage assessment. It was found that cropland was the most heavily impaired with a maximum inundated area of 1375.67 km2
, while other land types including forest, grassland, wetland, and impervious surface were relatively less damaged. The study results demonstrate that flood full lifecycle monitoring based on SAR data is helpful to explore the patterns of flood evolution, analyze causes, and assess damage. Simultaneously, focusing on drought-converted floods contributes to the understanding of flood patterns, which provides relevant management departments with decision support for disaster prevention and mitigation.
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