Calculating terrain indices along streams: A new method for separating stream sides

T. J. Grabs, K. G. Jencso, B. L. McGlynn, J. Seibert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in assessing riparian zones and their hydrological and biogeochemical buffering capacity with indices derived from hydrologic landscape analysis of digital elevation data. Upslope contributing area is a common surrogate for lateral water flows and can be used to assess the variability of local water inflows to riparian zones and streams. However, current geographic information system algorithms do not provide a method for easily separating riparian zone and adjacent upland lateral contributions on each side of the stream. Here we propose a new algorithm to compute side-separated contributions along stream networks. We describe the new algorithm and illustrate the importance of distinguishing between lateral inflows on each side of streams with hillslope-riparian zone-stream hydrologic connectivity results from high-frequency water table data collected in the 22 km2 Tenderfoot Creek catchment, Montana.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberW12536
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2010


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