Title: Deriving River Networks and Catchments at the European Scale Based on Medium Resolution Digital Elevation Data
Citation: CATENA vol. 70 p. 296-305
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC34610
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC34610
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The extraction of drainage networks and catchment boundaries from digital elevation models (DEMs) has received considerable attention in recent years and is recognized as a viable alternative to traditional surveys and the manual evaluation of topographic maps. However, most studies have covered limited areas due to the lack of detailed information and/or the lack of highly efficient algorithms. In this paper we present an application that delineates river networks and catchment boundaries across the European continent based on a medium resolution (250m) DEM, that exploits novel algorithms taken from mathematical morphology concepts and implements a landscape stratification for drainage density. A flow direction grid is computed based on an efficient algorithm for the removal of spurious pits and river networks are derived by imposing a variable threshold for the minimum contributing area needed to form and maintain a channel. The latter is achieved through landscape stratification that reflects the ability of the terrain to develop different drainage densities. It is shown that the analysis of the environmental characteristics coupled with the analysis of local slope versus contributing area enables river network mapping with a spatially varying drainage density. The result has been validated by comparing the derived data to digital river and catchment data from other sources with varying scales of observation.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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