How does RBT work?

The RBT is a suite of GIS tools that work within the ESRI ArcGIS Desktop software. The RBT allows users to describe and measure river channels using high resolution digital elevation models (DEM). The DEMs can be derived from airborne remote sensing, such as LiDAR, or from ground based topographic surveys. With the RBT you can:

  • Detrend a DEM to remove the longitudinal valley slope.
  • Cut user-defined cross sections through the DEM.
  • Define the hydraulic geometry in each cross section, e.g. the bankfull width/depth.
  • Compute stream gradient and sinuosity.
  • Cut long profiles down the length of a channel and map longitudinal variations in any of the channel geometry metrics.
  • Vary the water level in a detrended DEM to investigate the distribution of water depths inside a stream and the extent of “off-channel” habitat still hydraulically connected to the main stem flow.
  • Locate residual pools, which may be used to identify fish habitat.

The RBT is an ArcGIS extension and as such you have to have ArcGIS installed before you can use any of the tools in the toolkit. The following videos demonstrate two of the interactive tools available with the RBT; the Bankfull Elevation and Pools tools.

What are the data requirements?

Most of the RBT tools require a high resolution DEM as an input. The tools will work with any elevation raster, but are intended for use with bathymetric datasets. Some of the tools also require other inputs, such as a polygon representing the river banks and a polyline representing the centerline. These data can be generated by RBT from the source DEM or otherwise provided by the user.

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What results are produced?

RBT outputs include GIS maps and tabular data. The maps, either raster images or vector ShapeFiles, represent channel features intended to inform users about the aquatic habitat. The tabular data include common parameters such as gradient and hydraulic radius that are commonly used by hydrologists, aquatic ecologists, and geomorphologists.

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What are the system requirements?

See the list of system requirements on the Downloads page.