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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

The accuracy of drainage network delineation as a function of environmental factors: A case study in Central and Northern Sweden

Yan, Yanzi; Lidberg, William; Tenenbaum, David E.; Pilesjo, Petter


Drainage networks delineated from Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), are the basis for the modelling of geomorphological and hydrological processes, biogeochemical cycling, and water resources management. Besides providing effective models of water flows, automatically extracted drainage networks based on topography can diverge from reality to varying degrees. The variability of such disagreement within catchments has rarely been examined as a function of the heterogeneity of land cover, soil type, and slope in the catchment of interest. This research gap might not only substantially limit our knowledge of the uncertainty of hydrological prediction, but can also cause problems for users attempting to use the data at a local scale. Using 1:100000 scale land cover maps, Quaternary deposits maps, and 2 m resolution DEMs, it is found that the accuracy of delineated drainage networks tends to be lower in areas with denser vegetation, lower hydraulic conductivity, and higher erodibility. The findings of this study could serve as a guide for the more thoughtful usage of delineated drainage networks in environmental planning, and in the uncertainty analysis of hydrological and biochemical predictions. Therefore, this study makes a first attempt at filling the knowledge gap described above.


accuracy; catchments; digital elevation models; drainage network; land cover; slope; soil type; variability

Published in

Hydrological Processes
2020, Volume: 34, number: 26, pages: 5489-5504
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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