Mapping outlet points used for watershed delineation onto DEM-derived stream networks

John B. Lindsay, James J. Rothwell, Helen Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Outlet point positions taken from hydrometric stations commonly do not coincide with stream locations extracted from digital elevation models (DEMs). This is a serious problem for accurate watershed delineation of data sets containing numerous outlets, which is critical in regional-scale studies that relate catchment characteristics to basin responses. The advanced outlet repositioning approach (AORA), presented here, replicates the processes involved in manual outlet placement while reducing inefficiency and potential for blunders. The technique uses water body names to identify locations for outlet repositioning that are consistent with nearby outlets. The AORA performance was compared against two existing automated techniques using 993 stations in seven basins in northwest England. The AORA had the fewest repositioning errors in each basin and nearly halved the overall number of errors in the data set, compared with the second-best method. This work highlights the potential errors that may be present in studies that have employed existing automated watershed mapping methods. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW08442
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


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