How much inundation occurs in the Amazon River basin?



Fleischmann AS, Papa F, Fassoni-Andrade A, Melack JM, Wongchuig S, Paiva RCD, Hamilton SK, Fluet-Chouinard E, Barbedo R, Aires F, Al Bitar A, Bonnet M, Coe M, Ferreira-Ferreira J & Silva TSF (2022) How much inundation occurs in the Amazon River basin?. Remote Sensing of Environment, 278, Art. No.: 113099.

The Amazon River basin harbors some of the world's largest wetland complexes, which are of major importance for biodiversity, the water cycle and climate, and human activities. Accurate estimates of inundation extent and its variations across spatial and temporal scales are therefore fundamental to understand and manage the basin's resources. More than fifty inundation estimates have been generated for this region, yet major differences exist among the datasets, and a comprehensive assessment of them is lacking. Here we present an intercomparison of 29 inundation datasets for the Amazon basin, based on remote sensing only, hydrological modeling, or multi-source datasets, with 18 covering the lowland Amazon basin (elevation 1000 km2) is 323,700 km2. The highest spatial agreement is observed for floodplains dominated by open water such as along the lower Amazon River, whereas intermediate agreement is found along major vegetated floodplains fringing larger rivers (e.g., Amazon mainstem floodplain). Especially large disagreements exist among estimates for interfluvial wetlands (Llanos de Moxos, Pacaya-Samiria, Negro, Roraima), where inundation tends to be shallower and more variable in time. Our data intercomparison helps identify the current major knowledge gaps regarding inundation mapping in the Amazon and their implications for multiple applications. In the context of forthcoming hydrology-oriented satellite missions, we make recommendations for future developments of inundation estimates in the Amazon and present a WebGIS application ( we developed to provide user-friendly visualization and data acquisition of current Amazon inundation datasets.

Flooding; Surface water; Flood; plains; Interfluvial wetlands

Additional co-authors: Laura Hess, Katherine Jensen, Kyle McDonald, Alex Ovando, Edward Park, Marie Parrens, Sébastien Pinel, Catherine Prigent, Angélica F. Resende, Menaka Revel, Ake Rosenqvist, Jessica Rosenqvist, Conrado Rudorff, Dai Yamazaki, Walter Collischonn

Remote Sensing of Environment: Volume 278

Publication date01/09/2022
Publication date online01/06/2022
Date accepted by journal19/05/2022
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Thiago Silva
Dr Thiago Silva

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences