Articles | Volume 368
07 May 2015
 | 07 May 2015

Studying groundwater and surface water interactions using airborne remote sensing in Heihe River basin, northwest China

C. Liu, J. Liu, Y. Hu, and C. Zheng

Keywords: Heihe River Basin, airborne thermal infrared remote sensing, groundwater discharge, hot spot analysis

Abstract. Managing surface water and groundwater as a unified system is important for water resource exploitation and aquatic ecosystem conservation. The unified approach to water management needs accurate characterization of surface water and groundwater interactions. Temperature is a natural tracer for identifying surface water and groundwater interactions, and the use of remote sensing techniques facilitates basin-scale temperature measurement. This study focuses on the Heihe River basin, the second largest inland river basin in the arid and semi-arid northwest of China where surface water and groundwater undergoes dynamic exchanges. The spatially continuous river-surface temperature of the midstream section of the Heihe River was obtained by using an airborne pushbroom hyperspectral thermal sensor system. By using the hot spot analysis toolkit in the ArcGIS software, abnormally cold water zones were identified as indicators of the spatial pattern of groundwater discharge to the river.