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Measuring the significance of a divide to local drainage patterns


Lindsay, John B; Seibert, Jan (2013). Measuring the significance of a divide to local drainage patterns. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 27(7):1453-1468.

Abstract

This article presents a framework for estimating a new topographic attribute derived from digital elevation models (DEMs) called maximum branch length (Bmax). Branch length is defined as the distance travelled along a flow path initiated at one grid cell to the confluence with the flow path passing through a second cell. Bmax is the longest branch length measured for a grid cell and its eight neighbours. The index provides a physically meaningful method for assessing the relative significance of drainage divides to the dispersion of materials and energy across a landscape, that is, it is a measure of ‘divide size’. Bmax is particularly useful for studying divide network structure, for mapping drainage divides, and in landform classification applications. Sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the robustness of estimates of Bmax to the algorithm used to estimate flow lengths and the prevalence of edge effects resulting from inadequate DEM extent. The findings suggest that the index is insensitive to the specific flow algorithm used but that edge effects can result in significant underestimation along major divides. Edge contamination can, however, be avoided by using an appropriately extensive DEM.

Abstract

This article presents a framework for estimating a new topographic attribute derived from digital elevation models (DEMs) called maximum branch length (Bmax). Branch length is defined as the distance travelled along a flow path initiated at one grid cell to the confluence with the flow path passing through a second cell. Bmax is the longest branch length measured for a grid cell and its eight neighbours. The index provides a physically meaningful method for assessing the relative significance of drainage divides to the dispersion of materials and energy across a landscape, that is, it is a measure of ‘divide size’. Bmax is particularly useful for studying divide network structure, for mapping drainage divides, and in landform classification applications. Sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the robustness of estimates of Bmax to the algorithm used to estimate flow lengths and the prevalence of edge effects resulting from inadequate DEM extent. The findings suggest that the index is insensitive to the specific flow algorithm used but that edge effects can result in significant underestimation along major divides. Edge contamination can, however, be avoided by using an appropriately extensive DEM.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:27 Nov 2012 17:08
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:07
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Series Name:International Journal of Geographical Information Science
ISSN:1365-8816
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13658816.2012.705289

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