Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering
On-line version ISSN 2309-8775
The use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) has permeated almost every field in the engineering, natural and social sciences, offering accurate, efficient, reproducible methods for collecting, viewing and analysing spatial data. GIS do not inherently have all the hydrological simulation capabilities that complex hydrological models do, but are used to determine many of the catchment parameters that hydrological models or design flood estimation methods require. The purpose of this study was to perform catchment parameter analysis using GIS applications available in the ArcGISTM environment. The paper will focus on the deployment of special GIS spatial modelling tools versus conventional manual methods used in conjunction with standard GIS tools to estimate typical catchment parameters, e.g. area, average catchment and watercourse slopes, main watercourse lengths and the catchment centroid. The manual catchment parameter estimation methods with GIS-based input parameters demonstrated an acceptable degree of association with the special GIS spatial modelling tools, but proved to be sensitive to biased user-input at different scale resolutions. GIS applications in an ArcGISTM environment for the purpose of catchment parameter analyses are recommended to be used as the standard procedure in any proposed hydrological assessment.
Keywords : catchment parameters; GIS; DEM; average slope; flood hydrology e.g. area; average catchment and watercourse slopes; main watercourse lengths and the catchment centroid..