NO. 6 DATE 06/09/99

The Spatial Terrain Analysis Resource Toolset (START)

by Jacek Blaszczynski, Physical Scientist, National Applied Resource Sciences Center (NARSC)

Most of the existing automated terrain analysis tools are not arranged into any sort of classes and categories but are available haphazardly as commands on various GIS systems or as software available outside of commercial GIS systems because of its specialized nature. In some cases, the terrain tools are not completely finalized and they require further software work to cleanly interface with systems like ARC/INFO. To make sense of these tools we have systematized them into four major groups based on traditional divisions in geomorphology. These include tools for hillslope analysis, catchment analysis, and drainage pattern analysis, as well as physical process modeling tools that simulate the effects of terrain morphology on various physical ecosystem processes.

All the tools we are presenting here use DEMs as their only required data source, with exceptions that will be noted. They work primarily in Unix, but it should also be possible to compile the software to work on PCs. You should look at the following list as an early look at capabilities of which most could be made available soon depending on your expressed interest. We also hope to be able to accept a few project locations where we could run the models and develop elevation derivative data bases and related products. If you email, call, or send in a response indicating your interest in the toolset and their products, you will automatically become an informal customer for the project, part of a potential user group, and will be kept advised on our progress and access to the software. We should remind you that in some cases we still will need to get into a mutual arrangement with another agency before we can distribute their software at BLM.

Hillslope Analysis Tools

Drainage pattern analysis tools:

Watershed analysis tools:

Automated physical process models:

These models are available in the Terrain Analysis for Environmental Sciences (TAPES) software developed primarily based on work by the late Dr. Ion Moore and continued by Dr. John Gallant at the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies in Australia and Dr. John Wilson from University of Southern California and Montana State University. The software is a set of programs that works both on grids and contour data to model influence of terrain on various environmental processes.

This software represents about 20 years of dedicated research effort and is available as a public domain access with some limitations. The models can provide estimates of the results of various environmental processes based on DEMs and auxilliary data such a solar radiation file, vegetation, and soil data. Preparation of these additional data inputs is relatively easy to accomplish based on existing data sources. If there is enough interest in this software, it is currently available as C and FORTRAN source code which we can compile for the AIX machines at the BLM for use as contributed resource analysis software that interfaces with the ARC/INFO GIS and generates ARC/INFO data.

At NARSC, we the see the function of translating research into practical management as a common responsibility of all the scientists at the BLM, but we also realize that our various duties might not give us time to get acquainted with the latest tools. The START project is the beginning of our contribution to making access to these tools easier. For further information on it and on related efforts contact:

Jacek Blaszczynski, Physical Scientist, BLM NARSC RS-120, DFC Bldg. 50, Denver, Colorado, (303) 236-5263,

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