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Automated extraction of natural drainage density patterns for the conterminous United States through high performance computing

August 28, 2015

Hydrographic networks form an important data foundation for cartographic base mapping and for hydrologic analysis. Drainage density patterns for these networks can be derived to characterize local landscape, bedrock and climate conditions, and further inform hydrologic and geomorphological analysis by indicating areas where too few headwater channels have been extracted. But natural drainage density patterns are not consistently available in existing hydrographic data for the United States because compilation and capture criteria historically varied, along with climate, during the period of data collection over the various terrain types throughout the country. This paper demonstrates an automated workflow that is being tested in a high-performance computing environment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to map natural drainage density patterns at the 1:24,000-scale (24K) for the conterminous United States. Hydrographic network drainage patterns may be extracted from elevation data to guide corrections for existing hydrographic network data. The paper describes three stages in this workflow including data pre-processing, natural channel extraction, and generation of drainage density patterns from extracted channels. The workflow is concurrently implemented by executing procedures on multiple subbasin watersheds within the U.S. National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). Pre-processing defines parameters that are needed for the extraction process. Extraction proceeds in standard fashion: filling sinks, developing flow direction and weighted flow accumulation rasters. Drainage channels with assigned Strahler stream order are extracted within a subbasin and simplified. Drainage density patterns are then estimated with 100-meter resolution and subsequently smoothed with a low-pass filter. The extraction process is found to be of better quality in higher slope terrains. Concurrent processing through the high performance computing environment is shown to facilitate and refine the choice of drainage density extraction parameters and more readily improve extraction procedures than conventional processing.

Publication Year 2015
Title Automated extraction of natural drainage density patterns for the conterminous United States through high performance computing
Authors Larry V. Stanislawski, Jeff T. Falgout, Barbara P. Buttenfield
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70155005
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization NGTOC Rolla; Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries