19 Dec 2022
19 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A long-term monthly surface water storage dataset for the Congo basin from 1992 to 2015

Benjamin M. Kitambo1,2,3, Fabrice Papa1,4, Adrien Paris5,1, Raphael M. Tshimanga2, Frederic Frappart6, Stephane Calmant1, Omid Elmi7, Ayan Santos Fleischmann8, Melanie Becker9, Mohammad J. Tourian7, Rômulo A. Jucá Oliveira1, and Sly Wongchuig1 Benjamin M. Kitambo et al.
  • 1Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS), Université de Toulouse, CNES/CNRS/IRD/UT3, Toulouse, France
  • 2Congo Basin Water Resources Research Center (CRREBaC), Department of Natural Resources Management, University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN), Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 3Faculty of Sciences, Department of Geology, University of Lubumbashi (UNILU), Route Kasapa, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 4Institute of Geosciences, Campus Universitario Darcy Ribeiro, Universidade de Brasília (UnB), 70910-900 Brasilia (DF), Brazil
  • 5Hydro Matters, 1 Chemin de la Pousaraque, 31460 Le Faget, France
  • 6INRAE, Bordeaux Sciences Agro, UMR1391 ISPA, 71 Avenue Edouard Bourlaux, 33882 CEDEX Villenave d’Ornon, France
  • 7Institute of Geodesy, University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • 8Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá, Tefé, AM, Brazil
  • 9LIENSs/CNRS, UMR 7266, ULR/CNRS, 2 Rue Olympe de Gouges, La Rochelle, France

Abstract. The spatio-temporal variation of surface water storage (SWS) in the Congo River basin (CRB), the second largest watershed in the world, remains widely unknown. In this study, satellite-derived observations are combined to estimate SWS dynamics at the CRB and sub-basin scales over 1992–2015. Two methods are employed. The first one combines surface water extent (SWE) from the Global Inundation Extent from Multi-Satellite (GIEMS-2) dataset and the long-term satellite-derived surface water height from multi-mission radar altimetry. The second one, based on the hypsometric curve approach, combines SWE from GIEMS-2 with topographic data from four global Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), namely The Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS), Multi-Error-Removed Improved-Terrain (MERIT) and Forest And Buildings removed Copernicus DEM (FABDEM). The results provide SWS variations at monthly time step from 1992 to 2015 characterized by a strong seasonal and interannual variability with an annual mean amplitude of ~101 ± 23 km3. Middle-Congo sub-basin shows higher mean annual amplitude (~71 ± 15 km3). The comparison of SWS derived from the two methods and four DEMs shows an overall fair agreement. The SWS estimates are evaluated against satellite precipitation data and in situ river discharge and, in general, a relatively good agreement is found between the three hydrological variables at the basin and sub-basin scales (linear correlation coefficient > 0.5). We further characterize the spatial distribution of the major drought that occurred across the basin at the end of 2005 and early 2006. The SWS estimates clearly reveal the widespread spatial distribution of this severe event (less than 40 % of the mean maximum), in accordance with the large negative anomaly observed in precipitation over that period. This new SWS long-term dataset over the Congo basin is an unprecedented new source of information for improving our comprehension of hydrological and biogeochemical cycles in the basin. As the datasets used in our study are available globally, our study opens opportunities to further develop satellite-derived SWS estimates at the global scale. The dataset of the CRB’s SWS is available for download at (kitambo et al., 2022b).

Benjamin M. Kitambo et al.

Status: open (until 08 Mar 2023)

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Benjamin M. Kitambo et al.

Data sets

A long-term monthly surface water storage dataset for the Congo basin from 1992 to 2015 Benjamin Kitambo, Fabrice Papa, Adrien Paris, Raphael M. Tshimanga, Frederic Frappart, Stephane Calmant, Omid Elmi, Ayan Santos Fleischmann, Melanie Becker, Mohammad J. Tourian, Rômulo A. Jucá Oliveira, Sly Wongchuig

Benjamin M. Kitambo et al.


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Short summary
The surface water storage (SWS) in the Congo basin (CB) remains unknown. In this study, the multi-satellite and hypsometric curve approaches are used to estimate SWS at the CB over 1992–2015. The results provide monthly SWS characterized by a strong variability with an annual mean amplitude of ~101 ± 23 km3. The evaluation of SWS against independent datasets performed well. This SWS dataset contributes to the better understanding of the Congo basin’s surface hydrology using remote sensing.