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NCED Stream Restoration Toolbox

Channel Planform Statistics


An ArcMAP Project

By: J. Wesley Lauer


February 14, 2006

The Stream Restoration Toolbox


The Stream Restoration Toolbox consists of current basic research cast into the form of
tools that can be used by practitioners. The details of a tool are presented through a
PowerPoint presentation, augmented by embedded Excel spreadsheets or other commonly
available applications. The toolbox is a vehicle for bringing research findings into practice.
While many tools are being developed by NCED Researchers, the opportunity to contribute
a tool to the Toolbox is open to the community. For more information on how to contribute
please contact Jeff Marr at marrx003@umn.edu.

Statement of liability and usage


This tool is provided free of charge. Use this tool at your own risk. In offering this tool, the
following entities and persons do not accept any responsibility or liability for the tools use by
third parties:
The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics;
The universities and institutions associated with the National Center for Earth-surface
dynamics; and
The authors of this tool.
Users of this tool assume all responsibility for the tool results and application thereof. The
readers of the information provided by the Web site assume all risks from using the
information provided herein. None of the above-mentioned entities and persons assume
liability or responsibility for damage or injury to persons or property arising from any use of
the tool, information, ideas or instruction contained in the information provided to you.

Title Page
Tool Title: Channel Planform Statistics Toolbox
Tool Author: J. Wesley Lauer
Author e-mail: lauerj@seattleu.edu
Version: 2.0
Associated files:
1) PlanformStatisticsTools 2.0.ppt
2) PlanformTools.esriAddIn
Date: April 2012

Outline of this Document


Introduction to the Tool
Background
Installation
Tool 1: Interpolate Centerlines From Two Bank Lines
Tool 2: Lateral Distance Measurement
Tool 3: Bank Buffer Boxes

Introduction
The current availability of digital aerial photography allows for the relatively
straightforward comparison of historic and recent imagery of river channels.
However, making quantitative measurements of planform characteristics
such as width, curvature, and channel migration rate, while not difficult, can
be time consuming. These tools automate several of the more time
consuming aspects of these measurements at discrete points along a singlethread river.

This image of the Bogue Chitto River,


Louisiana, shows two channel
centerlines developed from bank lines
digitized by hand from aerial
photography.

Background
The channel planform statistics toolbox 2.0 is an ESRI ArcGIS 10.x add-in
that provides most of the functionality available in the initial ArcGIS 8 and 9
releases of the planform statistics toolbox. The tools perform three primary
functions. 1) Interpolate the centerline of two lines (i.e. two banks that have
been digitized by hand from an aerial photograph). Width and local radius of
curvature at each evenly-spaced point along the centerline are saved in a
text file. 2) Estimate the mean lateral normal distances at even increments
between two lines developed using tool 1 (i.e. between river channel
centerlines at two points in time), and 3) generate a polygon shapefile of
boxes adjacent to the channel banks that correspond with a particular
centerline point. These boxes are useful if the user wishes to correlate a
bank property with one of the observed statistics.
This powerpoint presentation presents rudimentary instructions for installing
and using the tools. While the instructions are basic, the tools are fairly
intuitive so that the user should be able to develop useful information with
only a minimal amount of trial and error.

Installation
The Planform Statistics Toolbox for ArcGIS 10 is released as a complied ESRI
extension file. To install on a computer that has a valid ArcGIS 10.x installation,
simply copy PlanformToolsX.esriAddIn to any folder on the computer and then
double click on the file. ArcGIS will install the program automatically.
The tools are the accessed by opening ArcGIS and using the customize menu
to add the buttons for the Add-in to any existing toolbar.
The buttons for the tools are as follows:
Centerline Interpolator
Lateral Offset Measurement
Bank Buffer Boxes

Tool 1: Interpolate Centerlines From Two


Bank Lines
This tool finds evenly spaced points that are representative of the center of
two roughly parallel lines. It then connects these points into a new line.
The algorithm used to solve for the points works as follows: The program
creates a point a user specified distance from the previous point. It then
varies the angle until the distance between the closest point on each
respective bank line and the new point is nearly equal. (i.e. a = b). This
results in a relatively smooth centerline made up of evenly spaced points.
The new line is stored in a new shapefile.

Initial

Final

Tool 1: Interpolate Centerlines From Two Bank


Lines (cont.)
To use the tool, select the following icon from the toolbar:
The tool prompts the user to select the two lines between which the
centerline is to be interpolated. These lines should be oriented in the same
direction. It is recommended that the user represent bank lines with a symbol
that includes an arrow oriented in the downstream direction to ensure that
this is the case. It then asks for the spacing between the interpolated points.
The program seems to run reasonably well when the spacing is on the order
of about half a channel width. For smaller spacings,, it is possible for the
interpolated centerline to turn back on itself.
The tool is relatively stable in that few geometries cause it to fail. However, it
sometimes extends the last segment past the bank lines.
Channel width and other geometric information is stored in a textfile with a
name that corresponds to the shapefile used to store centerline information.

Tool 1: New Features in Version 2.0


The tool operates using essentially the same algorithm as in the old ArcGIS
8 and 9 releases. However, the output textfile now contains additional the
coordinates of the left bank and right bank associated with the given
centerline point.
Output columns are:

OID:
m:
width:
theta:
dtheta:
r_curve:

Object ID
s
Down-channel distance
i-1
Local width (a + b from slide 9)
Local angle of downstream segment, i
Local increment in angle, i-i-1
A first-order estimate for local radius of curvature, s/dtheta
A value of -99999 is stored for dtheta = 0.
cl_x and cl_y:
x and y coordinates of the centerline point
left_x and left_y:
x and y coordinates of the left bank point
right_x and right_y:
x and y coordinates of the right bank point

Note that local curvature (d/ds) can be estimated using a simple Euler scheme:
d/ds = (i i-1)/s. This is safer than taking the inverse of r_curve because of the way -99999 is
stored for points with no curvature. In any case, for most bank geometries, there is significant
local scatter in a first-order curvature estimate. It is recommended that higher order schemes be
used or curvature be smoothed prior to additional analysis.

Centerline interpolated
from two bank lines using
Tool 1.

(1952 photograph,
Pearl River, Louisiana/
Mississippi.)

Tool 2: Lateral Distance Measurement


This tool finds the average lateral normal distance between the nodes
interpolated using tool 1 and a second line. In the ArcGIS version 8 and 9
tools, the distance was found using a best fit Bezier curve to represent the
most likely path of migration for a particular point. In the ArcGIS 10 tool
(PlanformTools2.0), the tool no longer uses Bezier curves and instead fits
straight line segments to three intermediate centerlines interpolated between
the input centerlines. This change significantly decreases computational time.
As in the ArcGIS 8 and 9 versions, output is stored in polygon shapefile.
To use this tool, select the following icon from the toolbar:
The tool asks for the line to which distances are to be measured, and then for
the reference line. It will also prompt the user for a path and name for the new
shapefile.

Updates to Tool 2 in Version 2.0


Basic input for the new version of the tool
includes two centerlines, shown in red and
dark blue in the adjacent illustration. The tool
then splits each of these lines into a series of
segments at the mid-point between
intersections (red dots). For each set of
bounding segments, an intermediate segment
is found by averaging the x- and ycoordinates a given fraction into each
segment. The process is repeated with each
respective bounding segment and the
interpolated centerline, resulting in three
intermediate centerlines. Because of its
simple nature, the algorithm sometimes
results in changes in migration direction near
the points of intersection of the bounding
centerlines. However, migration rates in these
areas are usually very small.

Updates to Tool 2 in Version 2.0


Rather than being represented using Bezier
curves (as in the ArcGIS 8 and 9 versions of
the toolbox), trajectories are now defined as a
set of four straight line segments that connect
the older and newer centerline and are
approximately normal to each of the
intermediate centerlines. The segments are
constructed starting at the nodes of one of the
input bounding centerlines (shown in dark
blueusually the newer centerline). Each
trajectory extends to the nearest point on the
first intermediate centerline, then to the
nearest points on the second and third
intermediate centerline and finally to the
nearest point on the other bounding centerline
(shown in red)..

Tool 2: Lateral Distance Measurement (cont.)


For bends that translate primarily downstream without changing form, the
trajectory of outward normal migration would change direction, as shown below.
In this case, the program has the capability of estimating the short-term outward
normal migration rate for the reference line (usually the new centerline position).
In the ArcGIS 8 and 9 versions of the program, this was achieved using Bezier
Curves. The ArcGIS 10 version achieves this simply by changing mechanism for
finding intermediate centerlines, as described on the next pages.
Channel
Centerline
at t

Channel
Centerline
at t +t

Tool 2: Lateral Distance Measurement (cont.)


To force downstream migration in intermediate centerlines, the program first
prompts the user for a shapefile that represents the set of all bend apex
trajectories for such bends. The shapefile should be a line shapefile in which, for
all bends that translated primarily downstream, straight lines connecting the apex
of the older and newer bend has been digitized. This line should be snapped to
each of the respective centerlines.
Channel
Centerline
at t

Channel
Centerline
at t +t

Apex trajectory line. Such lines should be


digitized in a separate shapefile before
running the distance measurement tool.
The lines should be oriented toward the
newer centerline, snapped to each
respective centerline, and their forward
projection should not intersect the newer
centerline. If a line is not present at a
particular downstream-translating apex,
trajectories are computed as described
previously.

Centerline Interpolation on
Downstream Translating Bend

Updates to Tool 2 in Version 2.0

The tool represents downstream shifting


bends by prompting the user for the trajectory
of the bend apex. It then modifies the
intermediate centerline interpolation
procedure to force the intermediate
centerlines to fall on the trajectory.
Trajectories are then fit between the two
bounding centerlines as described previously,
but using the modified intermediate
Trajectories near Translating Bend centerlines. The short-term migration rate
and direction for the most recent centerline
near the bend apex can then be computed
based on the length of the newest of the four
line segments making up the trajectory of
migration (stored in the output polygon
shapefile).

Output from Tool 2 in Version 2.0


The length and sign of each of the four segments making up each
migration trajectory are stored in a polygon shapefile. Polygons are
centered on the nodes of the centerline the user specifies for storing
data (usually the newer centerline). This line serves as the point of
origin for trajectories and is shown here in dark blue. A trajectory
segment has a positive sign if it extends to the right of the polyline for
storing data. (Note that if the user specifies the newer centerline for
storing data, then a segment is positive if migration was to the left with
respect to the downstream direction.) The down-channel distance for
each trajectory on both older and newer centerlines is also stored.
Output Columns are:
Mig_dist
i
m
old_m
Mig_1
Mig_2
Mig_3
Mig_4

total of Mig_1 through Mig_4


index of apex on centerline used to store data
down-channel distance of trajectorys origin on centerline used to store data
down-channel distance of trajectorys end point on other centerline
length of 1st segment in migration trajectory (nearest to centerline used to store data)
length of 2nd segment in migration trajectory
length of 3rd segment in migration trajectory
length of 4th segment in migration trajectory (farthest from centerline used to store data)

Example usage of
tools 1 and 2:
Centerline interpolated from
two bank lines using Tool 1,
older photograph.

(1952 photograph,
Pearl River, Louisiana/
Mississippi.)

Modern
(1998)
aerial from
Centerline
interpolated
photograph
two bank lines using Tool 1,
more recent photograph.

(1998 photograph,
Pearl River, Louisiana/
Mississippi.)

Results of tool 2: Measured


lateral migration distances at
evenly spaced intervals. (1952
centerline was used as the to
centerline so that measurements
would be stored at even increments
along the 1998 centerline.). Note that
this image was created using the
ArcGIS Version 8 tool. Results would
be similar using the version 10 tool.

Tool 3: Bank Buffer Boxes


This tool finds areas on each bank that correspond with a particular channel
centerline point developed using tool 1 (and possibly migration distance
computed using tool 2) and saves these as two polygon shapefiles (one each
for the left and right banks, respectively). A polygon shapefile representing
the union of each set of boxes and the region within the channel
corresponding with that set is also saved.

Input Bank and


Centerline Geometry

Right Buffer Boxes

Left Buffer Boxes

Union Boxes

Tool 3: Bank Buffer Boxes (cont.)


The tool creates a sampling corridor of a user-specified width on the upland
side of two bank lines. The corridor is then subdivided by projecting evenly
spaced lines outward from the centerline (which should be composed of
equally long line segments-as is the case for a centerline developed using
Tool 1) until they intersect the offset bank lines. In most cases, the
subdividing lines are projected normal to the centerline. However, where
channel curvature is greater than a threshold value (10 is suggested), the
inwardly projected subdividing line is terminated at the point on the outer edge
of the sampling corridor nearest to that subdividing lines origin. This ensures
that subdividing lines do not miss the edge of the sampling corridor on the
inside of sharp bends. If the above criteria causes two adjacent subdividing
lines to intersect inside the outer edge of the sampling corridor, the
downstream line is rotated about its origin on the centerline until the
intersection occurs at the edge of the sampling corridor.

Tool 3: Bank Buffer Boxes (cont.)


To use this tool, select the following icon from the toolbar:
The user will first be prompted to select the centerline upon which the boxes will
be based. The user is then prompted for the buffer thickness and is asked to
select two separate sets of bank lines, each of which should be visible in the
current view. (The banks should have been digitized in the direction of flow.
The first set of bank lines is used only to compute the length of bank within the
buffer boxes. The second is used to generate the buffer boxes. The first and
second set of lines may be identical, but this is not required. Bank lines must
extend past the end points for the centerline.)
The user is next prompted for a maximum expected distance between the
channel centerline and the outer edge of the buffer. The program then asks the
user for a shapefile name. Union boxes will be stored in this file, while the left
and right bank boxes, respectively, will be stored in a file with the same name
and the characters _left and _right appended. Finally, the user is asked for a
threshold angle. A value of 10 seems to work well.

Example buffer
boxes developed
using Tool 3.
Bank Line 2
(used to create
buffer boxes)
Bank Line 1
(used only for
bank length)

Lines 1 and 2
identical

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The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer notice. Thank you for visiting the National
Center for Earth Dynamics Web site and reviewing our disclaimer notice. The Web site is for
informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific commercial, legal or other
professional advice. It is provided to you solely for your own personal use and not for purposes
of distribution, public display, or any other uses by you in any form or manner whatsoever. The
information on this Web site is offered on an as is basis without warranty. The readers of the
information assume all risks from using the information provided herein.
This tool is provided free of charge. Use this tool at your own risk. In offering this tool, the following
entities and persons do not accept any responsibility or liability for the tools use by third parties:
The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics;
The universities and institutions associated with the National Center for Earth-surface dynamics; and
The authors of this tool.
Users of this tool assume all responsibility for the tool results and application thereof. The readers of the
information provided by the web site assume all risks from using the information provided herein. None
of the above-mentioned entities and persons assume liability or responsibility for damage or injury to
persons or property arising from any use of the tool, information, ideas or instruction contained in the
information provided to you.

Want more information?

For more information on this tool, please contact the


author, J. Wesley Lauer, Associate Professor of Civil and
Environmental Engineering at Seattle University,
lauerj@seattleu.edu, or the National Center for Earthsurface Dynamics.

National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics


2 3rd Ave SE,
Minneapolis, MN 55414
612.624.4606