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River and Basin Profiler: a module for extracting watershed boundaries, river centerlines, and catchment statistics
  • Tal Zussman,
  • Jon Schwenk,
  • Joel Rowland
Tal Zussman
Columbia University of New York

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jon Schwenk
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Joel Rowland
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Watersheds serve as natural spatial boundaries whose characteristics are often indicators of the hydrologic processes within them. Watershed characteristics are frequently used as predictors, parameters, or proxies in models of hydrologic and ecologic dynamics. Developments in DEMs over the past decade have resulted in elevation data spanning the globe that allows watershed delineation at arbitrary locations. In tandem, satellite-based observations and large-scale modeling efforts provide many sources of near-global watershed characteristics, e.g. topography, soil types, vegetation, climate, permafrost extent, and many more. However, with growing data availability comes a growing need for tools that can rapidly query and summarize them. We developed River and Basin Profiler (RaBPro), a Python module providing a pipeline to delineate drainage basins for any point on Earth and calculate watershed statistics for practically any geospatial raster dataset. RaBPro makes use of the MERIT-Hydro or HydroBASINS datasets to define watershed polygons, which can be exported in GeoJSON or ESRI shapefile format for further use in GIS software. RaBPro will also generate streamlines and river elevation profiles. Finally, RaBPro calculates statistics over delineated basins using Google Earth Engine (GEE). By taking advantage of GEE’s vast dataset archive and distributed computing system, RaBPro can quickly compute many statistics over even very large basins efficiently and without the need for storing large geo-rasters locally. Additionally, users may upload their own datasets to GEE and create custom statistic functions.