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Water Level Fluctuations in the Congo Basin Derived from ENVISAT Satellite Altimetry

UAG/ESPACE-DEV, Route de Montabo, Cayenne 97300, French Guiana
UEA/CESTU, Av. Djalma Batista 3578, Manaus 69058-807, Brazil
IRD/LEGOS, 14 Av. Edouard Belin, Toulouse 31400, France
IRD/ESPACE-DEV, Route de Montabo, Cayenne 97300, French Guiana
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(10), 9340-9358;
Received: 16 May 2014 / Revised: 4 September 2014 / Accepted: 10 September 2014 / Published: 29 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Earth Observation for Water Resource Management in Africa)
PDF [5112 KB, uploaded 29 September 2014]


In the Congo Basin, the elevated vulnerability of food security and the water supply implies that sustainable development strategies must incorporate the effects of climate change on hydrological regimes. However, the lack of observational hydro-climatic data over the past decades strongly limits the number of studies investigating the effects of climate change in the Congo Basin. We present the largest altimetry-based dataset of water levels ever constituted over the entire Congo Basin. This dataset of water levels illuminates the hydrological regimes of various tributaries of the Congo River. A total of 140 water level time series are extracted using ENVISAT altimetry over the period of 2003 to 2009. To improve the understanding of the physical phenomena dominating the region, we perform a K-means cluster analysis of the altimeter-derived river level height variations to identify groups of hydrologically similar catchments. This analysis reveals nine distinct hydrological regions. The proposed regionalization scheme is validated and therefore considered reliable for estimating monthly water level variations in the Congo Basin. This result confirms the potential of satellite altimetry in monitoring spatio-temporal water level variations as a promising and unprecedented means for improved representation of the hydrologic characteristics in large ungauged river basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: satellite altimetry; Congo Basin; regional hydrology; K-means satellite altimetry; Congo Basin; regional hydrology; K-means

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Becker, M.; Da Silva, J.S.; Calmant, S.; Robinet, V.; Linguet, L.; Seyler, F. Water Level Fluctuations in the Congo Basin Derived from ENVISAT Satellite Altimetry. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 9340-9358.

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