Accurate watershed delineation is a precondition for runoff and water quality simulation. Traditional digital elevation model (DEM) may not generate realistic drainage networks due to large depressions and subtle elevation differences in local-scale plains. In this study, we propose a new method for solving the problem of watershed delineation, using the Taihu Basin as a case study. Rivers, lakes, and reservoirs were obtained from Sentinel-2A images with the Canny algorithm on Google Earth Engine (GEE), rather than from DEM, to compose the drainage network. Catchments were delineated by modifying the flow direction of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and overland flow, instead of using DEM values. A watershed was divided into the following three types: lake, reservoir, and overland catchment. A total of 2291 river segments, seven lakes, eight reservoirs, and 2306 subwatersheds were retained in this study. Compared with results from HydroSHEDS and Arc Hydro, the proposed method retains crisscross structures in the topology and prevented erroneous streamlines in large lakes. High-resolution Sentinel-2A images available on the GEE have relatively greater merits than DEMs for precisely representing drainage networks and catchments, especially in the plains area. Because of the higher accuracy, this method can be used as a new solution for watershed division in the plains area.
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