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Satellite Data for Climate, Water and Food


Effective precipitation during a flooding period: 21-30 September 2005

Yellow River water resources monitoring and flow forecasting

At the 1st International Yellow River Forum, held October 2003 in Zhengzhou, a Sino-Dutch cooperation project was signed to implement a Satellite Based Water Resources Monitoring and Flow Forecasting System for the Yellow River basin. Dutch participants are UNESCO-IHE, Hofung and EARS. 


Satellite based flow forecasting systems are implemented in the Upper Yellow River and in the Weihe tributary. In the Upper reach the focus is on water resources availability, while the application in the Weihe relates particularly to high water and flood forecasting. Besides the flow forecasting system also a satelllite based drought monitoring system is established for the entire basin.


user_images/LAS_copy.jpgAs a part of the project FengYun-2c receivers are implemented in Zhengzhou and Lanzhou. The EWBMS software is implemented to process the hourly satellite data automatically to rainfall and evapotranspiration data fields. The difference between the two is the net precipitation which serves as input into the runoff model. A dedicated Large Scale Hydrological Model (LSHM), developed by UNECO-IHE, generates river flow on the basis of these data. Because the upper reach of the Yellow River basin is over 3000 meter altitude, the "Freezing & Thawing module" software module takes care of snow storage during the winter period and snowmelt in spring.

Project plan

The project consists of 3 phases: a development phase, an implementation phase and a demonstration phase. The development phase is used to design the system, to resolve a number of technical and methodological questions, to develop the prototypes and to train the counterpart in undestanding the technology. During the implementation phase the prototype systems are installed and tested. Aslo the system products arevalidated and calibrated. To this end flux measuring stations have been installed, of which 3 in the Upper Reach on the Qinghai plateau. The measurements include air temperature, windspeed, sensible heat flux (using Large Area Scintillometers, see photograph above) and net radiation. During the demonstration phase the system runs in an operational way. Monthly river basin monitoring bulletins are generated and distributed. A scientific final report and evaluation workshop conclude the project.

Note: This project has been completed and was classified by a Chinese high level evaluation committee as "world leading level". Download the project final report: Satellite Water Monitoring and Flow Forecasting System for the Yellow River Basin (6.9 Mb)


At the 2nd Yellow River Forum, October 2005 a special session was dedicated to the project, where the first promising results where presented. The project session enjoyed an extensive visit of H.R.M. Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.