Although designed for ocean studies, hydrologists undertook great efforts for radar altimetry to include precise river and lake level monitoring. Berry, for instance, led a River and Lake Level monitoring development project, under ESA contract, in an effort to track rivers and lakes to help manage water resources.
As a result, ESA launched a web-based demonstration in 2005 that allows for radar altimetry data of African rivers and lakes from its environmental satellite, Envisat, to be freely available worldwide in near-real time within four days of measurements.
Following the 2002 World Summit, ESA partnered with UNESCO in starting up the TIGER initiative, which uses satellite data to manage water resources in Africa. ESA is currently presenting the TIGER initiative at the World Water Forum in Mexico City. The forum, being held from 16 to 22 March, has brought government, business, and non-government organisations together to discuss establishing a water-secure future and the UN goal of halving the number of people without drinking water by 2015.
The primary objective of TIGER is to help African countries overcome problems faced in the collection, analysis and dissemination of water related geo-information by exploiting the advantages of Earth Observation technology. More than 200 African water basin authorities, universities and other organisations have become involved in TIGER projects across the continent.
Although radar altimetry has been successful in measuring the height of rivers and lakes, scientists are looking for ways to improve the instrument in the future. More than 150 scientists from more than 20 countries have proposed an Earth Explorer hydrology mission called Water Elevation Recovery (WatER), which aims to determine how water storage varies in space and time.
According to Professor Doug Alsdorf of Ohio State University, conventional profiling altimetry which uses a sing
Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency