Integrating Landsat Imageries and Digital Elevation Models to Infer Water Level Change in Hoover Dam

Kuo Hsin Tseng, C. K. Shum, Jin Woo Kim, Xianwei Wang, Kefeng Zhu, Xiao Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The Thematic Mapper onboard Landsat 4, 5, and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+) onboard Landsat 7 have frequency bands (green and SWIR) to effectively measure water body extents and their changes via the Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI). Here, we developed a technique, called the thematic imagery-altimetry system (TIAS), to infer the vertical water changes from MNDWI horizontal water extent changes by integrating long-term TM/ETM+ imageries with available digital elevation models (DEMs). The result is a technique to quantify water level changes of natural or artificial water bodies over two decades. Several DEMs were used to compute intersects with TM/ETM+ water extent time series to evaluate the robustness of the technique. These DEMs include: the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer Global Digital Elevation Map version 2 (ASTER-GDEM2, at 1 arcsec resolution), the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission version 2 (SRTM C-band at 1 arcsec), and the Global Multiresolution Terrain Elevation Data (GMTED2010 at 7.5 arcsec). We demonstrated our technique near Hoover Dam (HD) in Lake Mead to quantify its respective decadal water level changes. The dammed water had experienced extraordinary level variation in the past 20 years due to natural decline from intake or artificial impoundments. The discrepancy of the HD water level changes from an analysis of 32-year (1984-2015) time series, including 584 Landsat scenes, using the GMTED2010 DEM, has a RMSE reached 0.85 ± 0.63 m (91% of data) as compared with in situ stage record.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7383227
Pages (from-to)1696-1709
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Inland water altimetry
  • Shoreline detection
  • lake level
  • remote sensing


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