Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3851–3862, 2012
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3851–3862, 2012

Research article 29 Oct 2012

Research article | 29 Oct 2012

Quantifying the performance of automated GIS-based geomorphological approaches for riparian zone delineation using digital elevation models

D. Fernández1,*, J. Barquín1, M. Álvarez-Cabria1, and F. J. Peñas1 D. Fernández et al.
  • 1Environmental Hydraulics Institute "IH Cantabria", Universidad de Cantabria, PCTCAN, C/Isabel Torres 15, 39011 Santander, Spain
  • *now at: Institute for Environmental Sciences, University Koblenz-Landau, Fortstrasse 7, 76829 Landau in der Pfalz, Germany

Abstract. Riparian zone delineation is a central issue for managing rivers and adjacent areas; however, criteria used to delineate them are still under debate. The area inundated by a 50-yr flood has been indicated as an optimal hydrological descriptor for riparian areas. This detailed hydrological information is usually only available for populated areas at risk of flooding. In this work we created several floodplain surfaces by means of two different GIS-based geomorphological approaches using digital elevation models (DEMs), in an attempt to find hydrologically meaningful potential riparian zones for river networks at the river basin scale. Objective quantification of the performance of the two geomorphologic models is provided by analysing coinciding and exceeding areas with respect to the 50-yr flood surface in different river geomorphological types.