Coming soon: HydroSHEDS v2.0

Since its introduction in 2008, the HydroSHEDS database has transformed large-scale hydro-ecological research and applications worldwide by offering standardized spatial units for hydrological assessments. At its core, HydroSHEDS provides digital hydrographic information that can be applied in Geographic Information Software (GIS) or hydrological models to delineate river networks and catchment boundaries at multiple scales, from local to global. Its various data layers form the basis for applications in a wide range of disciplines including environmental, conservation, socioeconomic, human health, and sustainability studies. Yet version 1 of HydroSHEDS shows some important limitations. In particular, coverage above 60° northern latitude (i.e., largely the Arctic) is missing for the 3 arc-second product and is of low quality for coarser products because no SRTM elevation data are available for this region. Also, some areas are affected by inherent data gaps or other errors that could not be fully resolved at the time of creating version 1 of HydroSHEDS.

Next generation of HydroSHEDS: replacing SRTM elevation model with DLR products

Today, the TanDEM-X dataset (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement), created in partnership between the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) and Airbus, offers a new digital elevation model covering the entire global land surface including northern latitudes. In a collaborative project, this dataset is used to extract HydroSHEDS v2.0, also known as HydroSHEDS-X, following the same basic specifications as version 1.

DLR is processing the original 12 m resolution TanDEM-X data to create a hydrologically pre-conditioned version at 3 arc-second resolution. In this step, corrections with high-resolution vegetation and settlement maps are applied to reduce distortions caused by vegetation cover and in built-up areas. Following this preprocessing, refined hydrological optimization and correction algorithms are used to derive the drainage pathways, including improved ‘stream-burning’ techniques that incorporate recent data products such as high- resolution terrestrial open water masks and improved tracing of drainage pathways as centerlines in global lake and river maps.

Visit our HydroSHEDS v2.0 development page to learn more.

Header image:

DLR's twin TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X satellites. Image credit: ©DLR. Learn more about the TanDEM-X mission.