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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Using Radar to Map Hydrology in Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Forests: Implications for Improved Water Quality Management

item Lang, Megan
item Walthall, Charles

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 20, 2006
Publication Date: May 3, 2006
Citation: Lang, M.W., Walthall, C.L. 2006. Using radar to map hydrology in Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Forests: Implications for improved water qualtiy management [abstract]. Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) Annual Meeting. Available:

Technical Abstract: The Chesapeake Bay Watershed has lost over half of its historic wetlands, and most of those that remain are forested, Coastal Plain wetlands. Remaining wetlands are at high risk for future loss, due to inadequate legal protection and rapid population growth. Hydrology (flooding and soil moisture) controls wetland function, and must be better understood to improve wetland mapping and watershed management. Broad-scale forested wetland hydrology is difficult to monitor using ground-based and traditional remote sensing methods (i.e., aerial photography). C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data could improve the capability to monitor forested wetland hydrology, but the abilities and limitations of these data need further investigation. This study examined: 1) the ability of ENVISAT SAR (C-HH and C-VV) data to monitor inundation and soil moisture in forested wetlands; 2) limitations inherent to C-band data when monitoring forested wetland hydrology; and 3) the accuracy of forested wetland maps produced using SAR data. Based on the results of this project, forest hydrology is currently being mapped over a broader area, within the Choptank Watershed, Maryland. Preliminary results are encouraging and opportunities are being explored to include this hydrologic metric, as well as other biophysical parameters, in a spatially explicit water quality model.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015