Special Issue "Advances in Paleohydrology Using Remote Sensing"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Philippe Paillou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
Tel. +33 (0)540 00 32 80
Interests: radar remote sensing; paleohydrology; desert study
Dr. Troy Sternberg
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Geography and Environment, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1865 285452
Interests: environment; arid lands; water resources
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Paleohydrology is concerned with the study of past hydrologic systems and their change with climate. The present-day geomorphology of deserts and arid lands still contains evidence of the hydrologic history of these environments, when local climate was wetter. Such evidence, in forms of paleorivers and paleolakes, showing alteration, deposition, and erosion processes, is usually retrieved from field observation, but remote sensing techniques have now matured enough to be able to provide valuable information from space. In particular, radar remote sensing techniques, which are able to image the near subsurface under dry sediments and can produce accurate topography using interferometry, have demonstrated their capacities to map ancient hydrologic systems in desert regions. In addition to their interest in understanding the climate history of current arid environments, such studies also provide key information for the prospecting of fossil water resources.

Prof. Philippe Paillou
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • paleohydrology
  • remote sensing
  • geomorphology
  • deserts and drylands
  • water resources

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Article type: Article
Title: Paleohydrology of the Ephemeral Kuiseb River, Namibia, from Radar Remote Sensing and Drone Imaging
Authors: Ph. Paillou 1,*, S. Lopez 1 and E. Marais 2
1 Université de Bordeaux, UMR CNRS-LAB, Pessac, France
2 Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, Walvis Bay, Namibia
* Correspondence: [email protected]
Abstract: The Kuiseb river is one of the major ephemeral rivers of western Namibia, marking the northern limit of the Namib Sand Sea and outflowing in the Atlantic Ocean. Such ephemeral rivers are of highest importance for the country, since they are both related to recent past climatic conditions and to potential water resources. Using radar images from the Japanese ALOS-2 satellite, we detected numerous paleo-channels hidden under surface aeolian sediments: while old tributes of the Kuiseb river appear North of its present-day bed, an ancient and wide river system, running westward, can be observed in the interdune valleys in the South. Channels of this old drainage system were studied during a fieldwork in May 2019, which produced both subsurface ground penetrating radar profiles and high resolution digital elevation models generated using a drone. The Tsondab sandstone under the linear dunes of the Namib desert is then very likely to keep tracks of the ancient hydrological history of the Kuiseb river. These observations could contribute to better understand the formation process of the linear dunes at the northern edge of the Namib Sand Sea, and the discovered ancient river system might be related to vital fossil water resources.


Top: ALOS-2 radar image of an inter dune valley, South of the present-day Kuiseb riverbed, revealing paleo-channels hidden under aeolian sediments (green lines indicate locations of ground penetrating radar profiles). Middle: High resolution ortho-image of the inter dune valley generated from drone acquisitions. Bottom: High resolution digital elevation model, produced by photogrammetric processing of the drone images, showing a slight topographic depression associated with paleo-channels.


Article type: Article
Title: Remote Sensing data reveal Paleohydrologic features in Saudi Arabia
Authors: Mohamed Abdelkareem 1,2,*, Fathy Abdalla 1,3,*, Samar Y. Mohamed 1 and Farouk El-Baz 2
1 Geology Department, Faculty of Science, South Valley University, Egypt; [email protected] (M.A.); [email protected] (S.Y.M.)
2 Center for Remote Sensing, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; [email protected] (F.E.-B.)
3 Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
* Correspondence: [email protected] (M.A.); [email protected] (F.A.)
Abstract: Today, the Arabian Peninsula is one of the driest regions on Earth; however, this area experienced heavy rainfall in the past. During those periods, catchments received substantial surface water and sustained vast stream networks and paleolakes that are currently inactive. ALOS/PALSAR data revealed paleohydrologic features buried under shallow aeolian deposits in many areas of the ad Dawasir, Saba, Rummah/Batin, and as Sirhan wadis. Other data revealed that the middle of the trans-Peninsula Wadi Rummah/Batin, which extends ~1,200 km from the Arabian Shield to Kuwait and covers ~200,000 km2, is dammed by linear sand dunes. Integrating Landsat 8 OLI, Geo-Eye, and ALOS/PALSAR data allowed characterization of drainage reversal and diversion shaped by structural and volcanic activities. Evidence of streams abruptly shifting from one catchment to another is preserved in W. ad Dawasir, along the fault trace, indicating how the paleochannels were abandoned because of structural events. Recent volcanic activities in northern Saudi Arabia also upended the slope of the land and reversed drainage systems. Relics of earlier drainage directions are well maintained as paleoslopes and wide upstream patterns. This study found that paleohydrologic activities in Saudi Arabia are impacted by changes in climate and structural and volcanic activities, which led to changes in the stream directions and activities. Landsat-OLI data revealed that several agricultural fields are irrigated with groundwater, proving the existence of fossil water that was received and stored in past wet conditions. Complementary radar and optical remote sensing data are significant for deciphering past hydrologic activities and predicting potential water resource areas.
Keywords: Paleohydrology; ALOS/PALSAR; SRTM; Saudi Arabia
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