Surface Water and Wetlands

Understanding and monitoring Canada’s water is fundamental to the responsible management of this precious resource.  Freshwater covers almost 9% of Canada, while wetlands cover an additional 14%.  Satellites are considered to be the most promising means of monitoring the seasonal changes in both freshwater and the state of wetlands on a regional and national scale.

Scientists at the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (formerly CCRS) have developed techniques to use satellite SAR to map the extent of surface water.  These techniques are now being regularly used to map the extent of seasonal flooding in Canada and abroad:

CCRS Emergency Response Activity in Canada

CCRS Emergency Response Activity Internationally

Today, new techniques to measure surface water level from current and future spaceborne SARs are being developed and validated.

Satellite data have been combined with surface measurements to identify and manage community water resources in Canada’s North.

Geomatics information for the watershed serving Iqaluit, Nunavut, using EO data and ground survey

Advanced SAR-based techniques are being developed and used to help characterize wetlands.

Polarimetric RADARSAT-2 for Monitoring Canadian Wetlands

These techniques are being further developed to measure the transformation of Canada’s peatlands with current and future SAR satellites.