USGS - science for a changing world

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center


Measuring floodplain spatial patterns using continuous surface metrics at multiple scales

Scown, M.W., Thoms, M.C., and DeJager, N.R., 2015, Measuring floodplain spatial patterns using continuous surface metrics at multiple scales. Geomorphology, v 245, p 87-101. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.05.026


Interactions between fluvial processes and floodplain ecosystems occur upon a floodplain surface that is often physically complex. Spatial patterns in floodplain topography have only recently been quantified over multiple scales, and discrepancies exist in how floodplain surfaces are perceived to be spatially organised. We measured spatial patterns in floodplain topography for pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River, USA, using moving window analyses of eight surface metrics applied to a 1 × 1 m2 DEM over multiple scales. The metrics used were RangeSDSkewnessKurtosisCVSDCURVRugosity, and Vol:Area, and window sizes ranged from 10 to 1000 m in radius. Surface metric values were highly variable across the floodplain and revealed a high degree of spatial organisation in floodplain topography. Moran's I correlograms fit to the landscape of each metric at each window size revealed that patchiness existed at nearly all window sizes, but the strength and scale of patchiness changed within window size, suggesting that multiple scales of patchiness and patch structure exist in the topography of this floodplain. Scale thresholds in the spatial patterns were observed, particularly between the 50 and 100 m window sizes for all surface metrics and between the 500 and 750 m window sizes for most metrics. These threshold scales are ~ 15–20% and 150% of the main channel width (1–2% and 10–15% of the floodplain width), respectively. These thresholds may be related to structuring processes operating across distinct scale ranges. By coupling surface metrics, multi-scale analyses, and correlograms, quantifying floodplain topographic complexity is possible in ways that should assist in clarifying how floodplain ecosystems are structured.

Floodplain; Spatial pattern; Surface metrics;  Scale

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contacting the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Page Last Modified: January 29, 2016