Reach Scale Hdyrology

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Vector river reaches and catchments derived from MERIT-Hydro


MERIT-Basins is a global vector hydrography database derived from the 90-m MERIT-Hydro product using the TauDEM tool with the following features:

  • 25 km2 drainage area threshold for channels

  • Basin/region definition follows HydroSHEDS/HydroBASINS at level 1 and 2

  • Corrected/refined basin/region definitions

  • Below 25 km2 non-channelized areas along the coast or some endorheic areas (incomplete catchments or hillslopes) excluded

  • ~2.94 million river reaches (unit catchments)

File Format (for the latest version)

1. Subfolder "pfaf_level_01" (9 continents/sub-continents)

1.1 River flowline shapefiles

Filename: riv_pfaf_0?_MERIT_Hydro_v07_Basins_v01.shp, where ? is the level 1 Pfafstetter code from HydroSHEDS/HydroBASINS: 1: Africa, 2: Europe, 3: North Asia, 4: South Asia, 5: Oceania and South Asian Islands, 6: South America, 7: North America, 8: Arctic Region, 9: Greenland

Shape Attributes: COMID, lengthkm (length in km), lengthdir (direct length between starting and ending point), sinuosity (lengthkm/lengthdir), slope (calculated), uparea (upstream drainage basin area in km2), order (Strahler stream order), strmDrop_taudem (TauDEM-calculated stream drop), slope_taudem (TauDEM-calculated slope using MERIT DEM), NextDownID (river network topology; downstream river COMID), maxup (river network topology; how many upstream reaches), up1 (river network topology; upstream river #1 COMID), up2 (river network topology; upstream river #2 COMID), up3 (river network topology; upstream river #3 COMID), up4 (river network topology; upstream river #4 COMID)

1.2 Unit catchment shapefiles

Filename: cat_pfaf_?_MERIT_Hydro_v07_Basins_v01.shp

Shape Attributes: COMID, unitarea (unit catchment area in km2 )

2. Subfolder "pfaf_level_02" (61 basins)

Same shapefile data and properties as in pfaf_level_01 except organized in 61 Pfafstetter level 2 basins.

2.1 River flowline shapefiles

Filename: riv_pfaf_??_MERIT_Hydro_v07_Basins_v01.shp, where ?? is the level 2 basin Pfafstetter code from HydroSHEDS/HydroBASINS.

2.2 Unit catchment shapefiles

Filename: cat_pfaf_??_MERIT_Hydro_v07_Basins_v01.shp

3. Subfolder "zip"

zipped archives of pfaf_level_01 and pfaf_level_02


Please refer to the following paper for the details of description of this global database:

Lin, P., M. Pan, H. E., Beck, Y. Yang, D. Yamazaki, R. Frasson, C. H. David, M. Durand, T. M. Pavelsky, G. H. Allen, C. J. Gleason, and E. F. Wood, 2019: Global reconstruction of naturalized river flows at 2.94 million reaches. Water Resources Research,

Yamazaki, D., Ikeshima, D., Sosa, J., Bates, P. D., Allen, G. H., & Pavelsky, T. (2019). MERIT Hydro: A high‐resolution global hydrography map based on latest topography datasets. Water Resources Research, 55, 5053–5073.

Contact Peirong Lin or Ming Pan for questions.