GISHydro97 - Terrain

Terrain Analysis Module

Applications Programming Group, ESRI

Center for Research in Water Resources, University of Texas at Austin


Terrain analysis describes a set of methods for doing calculations on a digital elevation model of the land surface to derive drainage patterns and delineate streams and watersheds. There are standardized tools in the Arc/Info Grid system to perform these functions, and these have also been incorporated into the Spatial Analyst extension available for Arcview Version 3.0. This page describes several programs that use terrain analysis functions.

ArcView3-based Watershed Delineation Application

An ArcView 3-based watershed delineation application is being developed by Dean Djokic and Zichuan Ye of the Applications Programming group at ESRI for the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission. Some testing of this tool is being done by Seann Reed of the Center for Research in Water Resources, University of Texas at Austin. This application provides interactive tools for delineating areas draining to points, areas draining to stream line segments, and areas draining to and from polygon features. The application uses functionality provided by the ArcView Spatial Analyst Extension and therefore this extension is required to use the application. The application includes a customized GUI which adds to but does not modify the standard ArcView GUI and functionality. In addition to watershed delineation tools, the application also includes utilities for managing point, line, and polygon shapefiles, and pre-processing tools for setting up input data.

This application is still under development. A tutorial demonstrating the use of this application is included on the GisHydro97 CD-ROM along with sample files needed to run the application.

****NOTE: The original "Application Tutorial" distributed on the GISHydro97 CD-ROM has been outdated. The link below is to a more recent exercise that was updated on 10/11/97. Please contact the Application Developers (see bottom of this page) for the most recent version of software and documentation. (10/1/97)

Links to Class Exercises and Educational Tools

There are two online exercises related to terrain analysis that are part of a GIS course taught by David R. Maidment in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Austin. Exercise 2 describes watershed and stream delineation using Arc/Info Grid and Exercise 6 uses ArcView 3 with the Spatial Analyst.

A list of all these class exercises is provided under the Class Exercises Module on this CD-ROM.

Ferdi Hellweger has created a Web Grid Calculator using Java that illustrates some of the concepts like "flow direction" and "flowaccumulation" used for terrain analysis.

Special Considerations for Terrain Analysis

There are two important aspects of terrain analysis that are not handled in the methodology described by class Exercise 2 above or by the Watershed Delineation Application.

Primary Contact(s)

These materials may be used for study, research, and education, but please credit the authors and the Center for Research in Water Resources, The University of Texas at Austin. All commercial rights reserved. Copyright 1997 Center for Research in Water Resources.