Semi-arid North-central Namibia has high potential for rice cultivation because large seasonal wetlands (oshana
) form during the rainy season. Evaluating the distribution of surface water would reveal the area potentially suitable for rice cultivation. In this study, we detected the distribution of surface water with high spatial and temporal resolution by using two types of complementary satellite data: MODIS (MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer–Earth Observing System), using AMSR2 after AMSR-E became unavailable. We combined the modified normalized-difference water index (MNDWI) from the MODIS data with the normalized-difference polarization index (NDPI) from the AMSR-E and AMSR2 data to determine the area of surface water. We developed a simple gap-filling method (“database unmixing”) with the two indices, thereby providing daily 500-m-resolution MNDWI maps of north-central Namibia regardless of whether the sky was clear. Moreover, through receiver-operator characteristics (ROC) analysis, we determined the threshold MNDWI (−0.316) for wetlands. Using ROC analysis, MNDWI had moderate performance (the area under the ROC curve was 0.747), and the recognition error for seasonal wetlands and dry land was 21.2%. The threshold MNDWI let us calculate probability of water presence (PWP) maps for the rainy season and the whole year. The PWP maps revealed the total area potentially suitable for rice cultivation: 1255 km2
(1.6% of the study area).