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Radar interferometry offers new monitoring approach for critical flood control infrastructure
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  • Karen An,
  • Cathleen Jones,
  • David Bekaert,
  • Victoria Bennett
Karen An
University of California, Los Angeles

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Cathleen Jones
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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David Bekaert
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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Victoria Bennett
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Aging flood infrastructure systems will need to be closely monitored as metropolitan areas globally face increasing inundation risk from sea level rise. To augment traditional ground survey, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is shown to efficiently quantify elevation change along earthen levees with continuous spatial coverage. The study area, California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, has an exemplar earthen levee system that protects the region from flooding. We investigate evidence of settling from historic levee breaks and small-scale subsidence features with a vertical velocity map and time-series of cumulative displacement derived from data acquired by the UAVSAR (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar) L-band SAR, during 2009-2015. Comparison between radar and lidar maps (2007 and 2017) show that typical laser elevation surveys can miss subsidence features in the presence of normal maintenance activities. Historic levee break sites show more stable conditions due to the nature of repairs, and can be monitored using the SAR time series product. SAR information helps monitor the efficacy of repairs and targeted improvements to decrease the risk of levee breaks. In light of the upcoming NASA-ISRO SAR satellite mission, for which UAVSAR is the prototype, detailed monitoring will be attainable for levees worldwide.