n368228SE Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. Geographic variations in river form are often estimated using the framework of downstream hydraulic geometry (DHG), which links spatial changes in discharge to channel width, depth, and velocity through power-law models. These empirical relationships are developed from limited in situ data and do not capture the full variability in channel form. Here, we present a data set of 1.2 106 river widths in the Mississippi Basin measured from the Landsat-derived National Land Cover Dataset that characterizes width variability observationally. We construct DHG for the Mississippi drainage by linking digital elevation model (DEM)-estimated discharge values to each width measurement. Well-developed DHG exists over the entire Mississippi Basin, though individual sub-basins vary substantially from existing widthdischarge scaling. Comparison of depth predictions from traditional depthdischarge relationships with a new model incorporating width into the DHG framework shows that including width improves depth estimates by, on average, 24%. Results suggest that channel geometry derived from remotely sensed imagery better characterizes variability in river form than do estimates based on DHG.

published proceedings

  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

author list (cited authors)

  • Miller, Z. F., Pavelsky, T. M., & Allen, G. H.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM