In this paper, we use an airborne synthetic aperture radar to map river flood inundation synoptically at fine spatial resolution (1.2 m) along a ∼16 km reach of the River Severn, west-central England.
Images were obtained at four times through a large flood event between 8th and 17th November 2000 and processed using a statistical active contour algorithm to yield the flood shoreline at each time. Intersection of these data with a high vertical accuracy survey of floodplain topography obtained from airborne laser altimetry permitted the calculation of dynamic changes in inundated area, total reach storage and rates of reach dewatering.
In addition, comparison of the data to gauged flow rates, the measured floodplain topography and map data giving the location of embankments and drainage channels on the floodplain yields new insights into the factors controlling the development of inundation patterns at a variety of scales. Finally, the data were used to assess the performance of a simple two-dimensional flood inundation model, LISFLOOD-FP, and allows us, for the first time, to validate the dynamic performance of the model. This process is shown to give new information into structural weaknesses of the model and suggests possible future developments, including the incorporation of a better description of floodplain hydrological processes in the hydraulic model to represent more accurately the dewatering of the floodplain.