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Water 2018, 10(4), 533; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040533

An Efficient Method for Mapping High-Resolution Global River Discharge Based on the Algorithms of Drainage Network Extraction

1
State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Plateau Ecology and Agriculture, Qinghai University, Xining 810016, China
3
Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 March 2018 / Revised: 17 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Remote Sensing and GIS in Hydrology)
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Abstract

River discharge, which represents the accumulation of surface water flowing into rivers and ultimately into the ocean or other water bodies, may have great impacts on water quality and the living organisms in rivers. However, the global knowledge of river discharge is still poor and worth exploring. This study proposes an efficient method for mapping high-resolution global river discharge based on the algorithms of drainage network extraction. Using the existing global runoff map and digital elevation model (DEM) data as inputs, this method consists of three steps. First, the pixels of the runoff map and the DEM data are resampled into the same resolution (i.e., 0.01-degree). Second, the flow direction of each pixel of the DEM data (identified by the optimal flow path method used in drainage network extraction) is determined and then applied to the corresponding pixel of the runoff map. Third, the river discharge of each pixel of the runoff map is calculated by summing the runoffs of all the pixels in the upstream of this pixel, similar to the upslope area accumulation step in drainage network extraction. Finally, a 0.01-degree global map of the mean annual river discharge is obtained. Moreover, a 0.5-degree global map of the mean annual river discharge is produced to display the results with a more intuitive perception. Compared against the existing global river discharge databases, the 0.01-degree map is of a generally high accuracy for the selected river basins, especially for the Amazon River basin with the lowest relative error (RE) of 0.3% and the Yangtze River basin within the RE range of ±6.0%. However, it is noted that the results of the Congo and Zambezi River basins are not satisfactory, with RE values over 90%, and it is inferred that there may be some accuracy problems with the runoff map in these river basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: global river discharge; high resolution; drainage network extraction; DEM global river discharge; high resolution; drainage network extraction; DEM
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Li, J.; Li, T.; Liu, S.; Shi, H. An Efficient Method for Mapping High-Resolution Global River Discharge Based on the Algorithms of Drainage Network Extraction. Water 2018, 10, 533.

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