The RBT is a suite of GIS tools that work within ESRI’s 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.

RBT logo

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 licensed for use at no charge. Use the links below to download the latest version of the toolkit. The latest version of the RBT is structured as an ArcGIS Add-In. For information on how to install the RBT, please visit our help page.

Latest version:

File ArcGIS Version Date Version
RBTDesktop_3_7_05.esriAddIn 10.1 27 June 2014 3.7.5
2015_08_13_RBTDesktop_4_0_00.esriAddIn 10.2 13 August 2015 4.0.0
  • RBT Help
  • RBT Forum
  • RBT Tutorial Workbook. Originally developed for a 2-day workshop titled “New Tools in Process-Based Analysis of Lidar Topographic Data.” The tutorial takes about 2.5 hrs to complete, including reading the included background material on the RBT. The exercises demonstrate most of the current RBT features and will provide an overview of what can be achieved with your own data.
  • Tutorial data (126 Mb download from the US Forest Service)
  • The US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station also maintains a website dedicated to their River Bathymetry Toolkit research project.


Key Contacts

Contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss the current or future RBT feature set.

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