Scaling and elevation in river networks Academic Article uri icon


  • The analysis of large river networks obtained from digital elevation models has given insight into the variation of channel slope with scale. Investigators have recently suggested that channel slopes are selfsimilar with magnitude or area as a scaling parameter. Our data indicates otherwise; in particular, the variance of channel slope is larger than that predicted by simple selfsimilarity. This suggests multiscaling. The scaling exponent for the standard deviation is approximately half the corresponding exponent in the relationship of the slope mean to magnitude or area. A model for channel slopes based on a point process of elevation drops along the channel is presented. The model reproduces observed multiscaling properties when the density of elevation increments is related to area (or magnitude) as A. Copyright 1989 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings

  • Water Resources Research

author list (cited authors)

  • Tarboton, D. G., Bras, R. L., & RodriguezIturbe, I.

citation count

  • 197

complete list of authors

  • Tarboton, David G||Bras, Rafael L||Rodriguez‐Iturbe, Ignacio

publication date

  • September 1989