Use of impervious surface data obtained from remote sensing in distributed hydrological modeling of urban areas

Frank Canters, Okke Batelaan, Tim Van de Voorde, Jaroslaw Chormanski, Boud Verbeiren

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    While the increase of impervious surface cover in urbanized areas has a clear impact on urban hydrological processes, the relationship between flood conditions and urban development has been poorly studied. This chapter focuses on a case study demonstrating the impact of different remote sensing methods for characterizing the distribution of impervious surfaces on runoff estimation, and how this affects the assessment of peak discharges in an urbanized watershed in the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium. In the study use is made ofWetSpa, a grid-based spatially distributed hydrological model adapted to incorporate information on the proportion of different types of land-cover at grid cell level. The study shows that use of detailed information on the spatial distribution of impervious surfaces, as obtained from remotely sensed data, strongly affects local runoff estimation and has a clear impact on the modeling of peak discharges. Little difference, however, is observed between results obtained with impervious surface maps derived from high-resolution remote sensing data (IKONOS, 4 m resolution) and sub-pixel estimates of impervious surface cover derived from satellite data matching the model's resolution (Landsat, 30 m resolution).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUrban Remote Sensing
    Subtitle of host publicationMonitoring, Synthesis and Modeling in the Urban Environment
    PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9780470979563
    ISBN (Print)9780470749586
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2011


    • Factors, influencing runoff in urbanized areas - extent and spatial distribution of impervious surfaces within catchments
    • Field inventorying and visual interpretation - orthorectified aerial photographs, reliable methods for mapping impervious surfaces
    • Impact of land-cover distribution - on peak discharge estimation
    • Impervious surface data use - from remote sensing in distributed hydrological modeling of urban areas
    • Impervious surface mapping
    • Spatially distributed hydrological modeling - in the last four decades, with computational power
    • Use of detailed information on spatial distribution - of impervious surfaces
    • WetSpa, and flow routing - in a grid cell, flow path and catchment level
    • WetSpa, by Wang, Batelaan and De Smedt (1996) - focus on flood prediction
    • WetSpa, water balance computation - in four control volumes


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