In this paper, we propose a methodology devoted to exploit the outstanding characteristics of COSMO-SkyMed for monitoring water bodies in semiarid countries at a scale never experienced before. The proposed approach, based on appropriate registration, calibration, and processing of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, allows outperforming the previously available methods for monitoring small reservoirs, mainly carried out with optical data, and severely limited by the presence of cloud coverage, which is a frequent condition in wet season. A tool has been developed for computing the water volumes retained in small reservoirs based on SAR-derived digital elevation model. These data have been used to derive a relationship between storage volumes and surface areas that can be used when bathymetric information is unavailable. Due to the lack of direct measures of river's discharge, the time evolution of water volumes retained at reservoirs has been used to validate a simple rainfall-runoff hydrological model that can provide useful recommendation for the management of small reservoirs. Operational scenarios concerning the improvement in the efficiency of reservoirs management and the estimation of their impact on downstream area point out the applicative outcomes of the proposed method.
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