Determining watershed response in data poor environments with remotely sensed small reservoirs as runoff gauges
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In the semiarid regions of Africa, there are many small reservoirs used for irrigation. This study explores the practicality of using small reservoirs as runoff gauges by estimating their water storage changes using remote sensing imagery. A simple rainfall-runoff model is developed by observing the surface area and estimating the volume of eight small reservoirs in the Upper East Region of Ghana and in Togo using Envisat advanced synthetic aperture radar satellite images. The model is based on the Thornthwaite-Mather procedure and the assumption that with increasing precipitation, the contributing watershed area increases exponentially. The model parameters were estimated using the 2005 data and were validated using 2006 data. Although the total rainfall amounts were comparable in these 2 years, the rainfall and reservoir filling patterns were quite different. The model results indicate that the overall impact of the reservoirs largely depends on the ratios of reservoir to watershed areas. For this 2 year study, the reservoirs captured on average 34% of quick flow and 15% of overall runoff.
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