Date of this Version


Document Type



A new method for flood detection change detection and thresholding (CDAT) was used with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery to delineate the extent of flooding for the Chobe floodplain in the Caprivi region of Namibia. This region experiences annual seasonal flooding and has seen a recent renewal of severe flooding after a long dry period in the 1990s. Flooding in this area has caused loss of life and livelihoods for the surrounding communities and has caught the attention of disaster relief agencies. There is a need for flood extent mapping techniques that can be used to process images quickly, providing near real-time flooding information to relief agencies. ENVISAT/ASAR and Radarsat-2 images were acquired for several flooding seasons from February 2008 to March 2013. The CDAT method was used to determine flooding from these images and includes the use of image subtraction, decision-based classification with threshold values, and segmentation of SAR images. The total extent of flooding determined for 2009, 2011 and 2012 was about 542 km2, 720 km2, and 673 km2 respectively. Pixels determined to be flooded in vegetation were typically <0.5% of the entire scene, with the exception of 2009 where the detection of flooding in vegetation was much greater (almost one third of the total flooded area). The time to maximum flooding for the 2013 flood season was determined to be about 27 days. Landsat water classification was used to compare the results from the new CDAT with SAR method; the results show good spatial agreement with Landsat scenes.


Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/3/035002