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Publication Date
1 October 2016

A Morphology Independent Methodology for Quantifying Planview River Change and Characteristics from Remotely Sensed Imagery



Remotely sensed imagery of rivers has long served as a means for characterizing channel properties and detection of planview change. In the last decade the dramatic increase in the availability of satellite imagery and processing tools has created the potential to greatly expand the spatial and temporal scale of our understanding of river morphology and dynamics. To date, the majority of GIS and automated analyses of planview changes in rivers from remotely sensed data has been developed for single-threaded meandering river systems. These methods have limited applicability to many of the earth's rivers with complex multi-channel planforms. Here we present the methodologies of a set of analysis algorithms collectively called Spatially Continuous Riverbank Erosion and Accretion Measurements (SCREAM). SCREAM analyzes planview river metrics regardless of river morphology. These algorithms quantify both the erosion and accretion rates of riverbanks from binary masks of channels generated from imagery acquired at two time periods. Additionally, the program quantifies the area of change between river channels and the surrounding floodplain and area of islands lost or formed between these two time periods. To examine variations in erosion rates in relation to local channel attributes and make rate comparisons between river systems of varying sizes, the program determines channel widths and bank curvature at every bank pixel. SCREAM was developed and tested on rivers with diverse and complex planform morphologies in imagery acquired from a range of observational platforms with varying spatial resolutions. Validation and verification of SCREAM-generated metrics against manual measurements show no significant measurement errors in determination of channel width, erosion, and bank aspects. SCREAM has the potential to provide data for both the quantitative examination of the controls on erosion rates and for the comparison of these rates across river systems ranging broadly in size and planform morphology.

“A Morphology Independent Methodology For Quantifying Planview River Change And Characteristics From Remotely Sensed Imagery”. 2016. Remote Sensing Of Environment 184: 212-228. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.07.005.
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