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Major River Basins of the World (GRDC, 2007)

Recommended citation: Global Runoff Data Centre (2007): Major River Basins of the World / Global Runoff Data Centre. Koblenz, Germany: Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG).

Introduction

Major river basins of the World: Major rivers and basins from final erosion base Major rivers and basins from final erosion baseMajor river basins of the World: Major rivers and basins from final erosion base

The Major River Basins of the World is an ongoing GIS project of the Global Runoff Data Centre (GRDC) that aims at the provision of a set of shape files for the use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This dataset was created for the generation of GRDC map products and will be updated from time to time whenever extensions may be required by future GRDC projects. At present the dataset comprises the GIS layer of 405 river basins and 687 associated rivers. The drainage basins are derived from the flow direction data set of the HYDRO1k Elevation Derivative Database. The associated river network was generated on the basis of Major Riverbasins of the BGR in Hanover, Germany. Mean river discharge values calculated with the WaterGAP 2.1 (Universities of Frankfurt and Kassel, 2007) were assigned to each river as attributes.

Polygons of 405 river basins from the river mouths at the erosion base level (GRDC, 2007)

Major river basins of the World: Major river basins from final erosion base Major river basins from final erosion baseMajor river basins of the World: Major river basins from final erosion base

Based on the concept that a river basin covers all area of land that drains to the point of the lowest elevation, the delineation procedure starts at the rivers outlet (pour point), which coincides with the location of the confluence with a river, the mouth into an ocean or an endorheic sink. These "pour points" represent the locations above which the drainage basin is derived from the flow direction grid using the ESRI ARC/INFO software. We used the flow direction data set of the HYDRO1k Elevation Derivative Database on Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe. As HYDRO1k does not include flow direction data from Australia, there we used the basin boundaries as defined in Australia's River Basins 1997 (http://www.ga.gov.au/nmd/products/thematic/basins.htm) . We revised and checked the basin boundaries by overlaying the river courses of Digital Chart of the World (ESRI, 1991). Visually detected inconsistencies of the outputs of the automated procedure were corrected by a manual post-processing. After editing the boundaries, all basins were labelled using several world atlases as references. The basin layer GRDC_405_basins_from_mouth currently comprises 405 river basins. The polygons were attributed with name and size of the drainage basin, an outlet marking, long-term mean discharge [m³/s] and the mean annual discharge [km³] of the gauging station nearest to the mouth that is represented in our database.

Polylines of 687 rivers, associated to the basins from the river mouths (GRDC and WHYMAP, 2007)

Major river basins of the World: Significant rivers within the basins from final erosion base Significant rivers within the basins from final erosion baseMajor river basins of the World: Significant rivers within the basins from final erosion base

The river network was generated on the basis of Major River Basins (BGR, 2004) which is a combination of the Geological Map of the World 1:25,000,000 (CGMW, 2000) and the Watersheds of the World (WRI, 2003). We took all river courses from the BGR’s river layer that fitted into our generated river basins. We checked the river pattern by overlaying the river courses from the Digital Chart of the World (ESRI, 1991) and added some rivers and lakes extracted from DCW. For 687 water courses, a main stream feature was composed from single polygons and polylines. Composing these rivers, the river network layers GRDC_687_rivers and GRDC_lakes_join_rivers were created. The polylines and polygons were attributed with the name of the river, the name and size of the drainage basin, an outlet marking, the maximum (highest) assigned river discharge category along the river, and the associated classification interval.

Polylines of 687 rivers, classified by discharge (GRDC, BGR and University of Frankfurt, 2007)

Major river basins of the World: Major rivers classified by their mean annual runoff Major rivers classified by their mean annual runoffMajor river basins of the World: Major rivers classified by their mean annual runoff

To display the long term average discharge along the river course, we split the river polylines into equidistant 0.25-length units and assigned a river discharge value to each river segment by overlaying the generated mean discharge 1961-1990 as computed with WaterGAP 2.1 (University of Frankfurt, 2007) at a spatial resolution of 0.5 degree. We grouped the modelled river discharge values into ten classes and assigned each river segment to a river class (category). Each class (category) represents an interval of discharge values in km³/year. The maximum (highest) assigned category along a river was picked to label the average discharge from the associated drainage basin at the river outlet. The polylines of 687 rivers (GRDC_687_rivers_class ) were attributed with the name of the river, the name of the drainage basin, the assigned river discharge category per river segment, and the associated classification interval.

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