How does modifying a DEM to reflect known hydrology affect subsequent terrain analysis?

J Callow, K Vanniel, Guy Boggs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many digital elevation models (DEMs) have difficulty replicating hydrological patterns in flat landscapes. Efforts to improve DEM performance in replicating known hydrology have included a variety of soft (i.e. algorithm-based approaches) and hard techniques, such as "Stream burning" or "surface reconditioning" (e.g. Agree or ANUDEM). Using a representation of the known stream network, these methods trench or mathematically warp the original DEM to improve how accurately stream position, stream length and catchment boundaries replicate known hydrological conditions. However, these techniques permanently alter the DEM and may affect further analyses (e.g. slope). This paper explores the impact that commonly used hydrological correction methods (Stream burning, Agree.aml and ANUDEM v4.6.3 and ANUDEM v5.1) have on the overall nature of a DEM, finding that different methods produce non-convergent outcomes for catchment parameters (such as catchment boundaries, stream position and length), and differentially compromise secondary terrain analysis. All hydrological correction methods successfully improved calculation of catchment area, stream position and length as compared to using the DEM without any modification, but they all increased catchment slope. No single method performing best across all categories. Different hydrological correction methods changed elevation and slope in different spatial patterns and magnitudes, compromising the ability to derive catchment parameters and conduct secondary terrain analysis from a single DEM. Modification of a DEM to better reflect known hydrology can be useful, however knowledge of the magnitude and spatial pattern of the changes are required before using a DEM for subsequent analyses. � 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-39
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Hydrology
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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