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Ephemeral stream network extraction from lidar-derived elevation and topographic attributes in urban and forested landscapes

June 7, 2022

Under-representations of headwater channels in digital stream networks can result in uncertainty in the magnitude of headwater habitat loss, stream burial, and watershed function. Increased availability of high-resolution (<2 m) elevation data makes the delineation of headwater channels more attainable. In this study, elevation data derived from light detection and ranging was used to predict ephemeral stream networks across a forested and urban watershed in the Maryland Piedmont USA. A method was developed using topographic openness (TO) and wetness index to remotely predict the extent of stream networks. Predicted networks were compared against a comprehensive field survey of the ephemeral network in each watershed to evaluate performance. Comparisons were also made to the U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and a flow accumulation approach where a single drainage area threshold defined channel initiation. Although the NHD and flow accumulation methods resulted in low commission errors, omission errors were highest in these networks. The TO-based networks detected a larger number of ephemeral channels, but with higher commission error. Small ephemeral channels with less defined banks or originating at groundwater seeps were difficult to detect in all methods. Comparisons between forested and urban watersheds also highlight the difficulty of identifying headwater channels using topographic attributes in human-modified landscapes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Ephemeral stream network extraction from lidar-derived elevation and topographic attributes in urban and forested landscapes
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.13012
Authors Marina Metes, Daniel K. Jones, Matthew E. Baker, Andrew J. Miller, Dianna M. Hogan, J.V. Loperfido, Kristina G. Hopkins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Series Number
Index ID 70234203
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Utah Water Science Center, Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Water Science Center