Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The availability of digital data on rivers and lakes and their drainage basins (catchments), including information on the characteristics of these entities, is important for the analysis of environmental pressures and their impact on water resources. Recent policies, such as the Water Framework Directive, require the setup of Geographical Information Systems on water bodies and drainage basins as a basis for the development of River Basin Management Plans and for reporting to the European Commission. GIS tools allow for the combined analysis of digital elevation data and environmental parameters in order to derive at least part of the required information over extended areas. This report describes the development of a European-wide database of river networks and drainage basins. It presents an advanced methodology making use of medium resolution digital elevation data (250 m grid cell size) and information on climate, vegetation cover, relief, soils and lithology to derive river networks and catchments for the European continent.

In order to model the spatial variability in drainage density, a landscape typology is implemented and for each landscape type a dedicated critical contributing area is derived. In order to comply with the needs of environmental monitoring, lakes and transitional waters are considered during river mapping and catchment delineation. With respect to the EEA's monitoring needs, the Eurowaternet measuring stations are positioned and their corresponding catchments delineated. A dedicated algorithm has been developed to overcome problems of automatic river mapping in flat terrain.

Additional information

Authors: VOGT J ET AL, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 20756 EN (2003), 30pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Information & Public Relations Unit, Ispra (IT) Fax: +39 033278 5409 or Fax: +32 2 2996322 E-mail:
Record Number: 200316600 / Last updated on: 2003-08-29
Original language: en
Available languages: en