Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 196
Title: Modeling stream channel characteristics from drainage-enforced DEMs in Puget Sound, Washington, USA
Author: J. R. Davies, K. M. Lagueux, Beth L. Sanderson, T. J. Beechie
Publication Year: 2007
Journal: Journal of American Water Resources Association
Volume: 43
Issue: 2
Pages: 414-426
Keywords: GIS, geospatial analysis, fluvial geomorphology, channel morphology, digital elevation models, drainage enforcement, salmon habitat modeling

Mapping stream channels and their geomorphic attributes is an important step in many watershed research and management projects. Often insufficient field data exist to map hydromorphologic attributes across entire drainage basins, necessitating the application of hydrologic modeling tools to digital elevation models (DEMs) via a geographic information system (GIS). In this article, we demonstrate methods for deriving synthetic stream networks via GIS across large and diverse basins using drainage-enforced DEMs, along with techniques for estimating channel widths and gradient on the reach scale. The two-step drainage enforcement method we used produced synthetic stream networks that displayed a high degree of positional accuracy relative to the input streams. The accuracies of our estimated channel parameters were assessed with field data, and predictions of bankfull width, wetted width and gradient were strongly correlated with measured values (r^2 = 0.92, r^2 = 0.95, r^2 = 0.88, respectively). Classification accuracies of binned channel attributes were also high. Our methodology allows for the relatively rapid mapping of stream channels and associated morphological attributes across large geographic areas. Although initially developed to provide salmon recovery planners with important salmon habitat information, we suggest these methodologies are relevant to a variety of research and management questions.

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