Sub-seasonal Levee Deformation Observed Using Satellite Radar Interferometry to Enhance Flood Protection

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Levees are critical in providing protection against catastrophic flood events, and thus require continuous monitoring. Current levee inspection methods rely on limited information obtained by visual inspection, resulting in infrequent, localized, mostly qualitative and subjective assessments. This hampers the timely detection of problematic locations and the assessment of levee safety in general. Satellite radar interferometry yields weekly observations of levee conditions with high precision which complement current inspection methods. Here we show that levees are susceptible to short-term swelling and shrinkage associated with meteorological conditions, and assess how deformations can be related to the geohydrological properties and the safety of the levee. Our findings allow to understand the sub-seasonal behaviour of the levee in greater detail and to predict swelling and shrinkage due to variation of the loading conditions. This will improve the detection of anomalous levee responses which contributes to the development of reliable early warning methods using continuous deformation monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2646
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • OA-Fund TU Delft

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