River network routing on the NHDPlus dataset

Cédric H. David, David R. Maidment, Guo Yue Niu, Zong Liang Yang, Florence Habets, Victor Eijkhout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


The mapped rivers and streams of the contiguous United States are available in a geographic information system (GIS) dataset called National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus). This hydrographic dataset has about 3 million river and water body reaches along with information on how they are connected into networks. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Information System (NWIS) provides streamflow observations at about 20 thousand gauges located on the NHDPlus river network. Ariver network model called Routing Application for Parallel Computation of Discharge (RAPID) is developed for the NHDPlus river network whose lateral inflow to the river network is calculated by a land surface model. A matrix-based version of the Muskingum method is developed herein, which RAPID uses to calculate flow and volume of water in all reaches of a river network with many thousands of reaches, including at ungauged locations. Gauges situated across river basins (not only at basin outlets) are used to automatically optimize the Muskingum parameters and to assess river flow computations, hence allowing the diagnosis of runoff computations provided by land surface models. RAPID is applied to the Guadalupe and San Antonio River basins in Texas, where flow wave celerities are estimated at multiple locations using 15-min data and can be reproduced reasonably with RAPID. This river model can be adapted for parallel computing and although the matrix method initially adds a large overhead, river flow results can be obtained faster than with the traditional Muskingum method when using a few processing cores, as demonstrated in a synthetic study using the upper Mississippi River basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-934
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • North America
  • Numerical analysis/modeling
  • Rivers
  • Streamflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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