Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Li, Ruopu


Stream flowline delineation from high-resolution digital elevation models (HRDEMs) can be problematic due to the fine representation of terrain features as well as anthropogenic drainage structures (e.g., bridges, culverts) within the grid surface. The anthropogenic drainage structures (ADS) may create digital dams while delineating stream flowlines from HRDEMs. The study assessed the effects of ADS locations, spatial resolution (ranged from 1m to 10m), depression processing methods, and flow direction algorithms (D8, D-Infinity, and MFD-md) on hydrologic connectivity through digital dams using HRDEMs in Nebraska. The assessment was conducted based on the offset distances between modeled stream flowlines and original ADS locations using kernel density estimation (KDE) and calculated frequency of ADS samples within offset distances. Three major depression processing techniques (i.e., depression filling, stream breaching, and stream burning) were considered for this study. Finally, an automated method, constrained burning was proposed for HRDEMs which utilizes ancillary datasets to create underneath stream crossings at possible ADS locations and perform DEM reconditioning. The results suggest that coarser resolution DEMs with depression filling and breaching can produce better hydrologic connectivity through ADS compared with finer resolution DEMs with different flow direction algorithms. It was also found that stream burning with known stream crossings at ADS locations outperformed depression filling and breaching techniques for HRDEMs in terms of hydrologic connectivity. The flow direction algorithms combining with depression filling and breaching techniques do not have significant effects on the hydrologic connectivity of modeled stream flowlines. However, for stream burning methods, D8 was found as the best performing flow direction algorithm in HRDEMs with statistical significance. The stream flowlines delineated using the proposed constrained burning method from the HRDEM was found better than depression filling and breaching techniques. This method has an overall accuracy of 78.82% in detecting possible ADS locations within the study area.




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