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Title: Mapping ephemeral stream networks in desert environments using very-high-spatial-resolution multispectral remote sensing

In this paper, understanding the spatial patterns of ephemeral streams is crucial for understanding how hydrologic processes influence the abundance and distribution of wildlife habitats in desert regions. Available methods for mapping ephemeral streams at the watershed scale typically underestimate the size of channel networks. Although remote sensing is an effective means of collecting data and obtaining information on large, inaccessible areas, conventional techniques for extracting channel features are not sufficient in regions that have small topographic gradients and subtle target-background spectral contrast. By using very high resolution multispectral imagery, we developed a new algorithm that applies landscape information to map ephemeral channels in desert regions of the Southwestern United States where utility-scale solar energy development is occurring. Knowledge about landscape features and structures was integrated into the algorithm using a series of spectral transformation and spatial statistical operations to integrate information about landscape features and structures. The algorithm extracted ephemeral stream channels at a local scale, with the result that approximately 900% more ephemeral streams was identified than what were identified by using the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Hydrography Dataset. The accuracy of the algorithm in detecting channel areas was as high as 92%, and its accuracy in delineatingmore » channel center lines was 91% when compared to a subset of channel networks that were digitized by using the very high resolution imagery. Although the algorithm captured stream channels in desert landscapes across various channel sizes and forms, it often underestimated stream headwaters and channels obscured by bright soils and sparse vegetation. While further improvement is warranted, the algorithm provides an effective means of obtaining detailed information about ephemeral streams, and it could make a significant contribution toward improving the hydrological modelling of desert environments.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  2. Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-06CH11357; 27239
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Arid Environments
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 130; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0140-1963
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION; desert regions; ephemeral streams; feature extraction; very high resolution
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1359247