Hall, AC, Schumann, GJ-, Bamber, JL, Bates, PD & Trigg, MA, 2012, Geodetic corrections to Amazon River water level gauges using ICESat altimetry. Water Resources Research, vol 48., pp. -
Gauge stations are vital for monitoring water levels worldwide. However, many remote basins suffer from having gauges that are not tied to a common datum, making it impossible to know absolute water elevations, and therefore slope. This problem is known to exist on the River Amazon, for example, where water flux modeling efforts have been hampered by inconsistently leveled gauge data that serve as boundary conditions for these models. This paper presents a methodology for using Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) laser altimetry observations to geodetically level gauge stations. A proof-of-concept study was carried out to ascertain the feasibility and accuracy of the approach, and a mean absolute error of 19 cm was found. Once this was established, gauges within the Amazon Basin were geodetically leveled. This produced offsets for six gauges using a method that can be transferred to other locations and allows slope and discharge estimates to be calculated. The results are significant, with offsets as large as 13.37 m being added. The approach could provide improvements in modeling floodplain flow, processes, and fluxes in the Amazon Basin and worldwide.