EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Open source riverscapes: Analyzing the river corridor of the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan based on open access data

Florian Betz1,2, Magdalena Lauermann1, and Bernd Cyffka1,2
Florian Betz et al.
  • 1Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Applied Physical Geography, Eichstätt, Germany (
  • 2Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Floodplain Institute Neuburg, Neuburg, Germany

In fluvial geomorphology as well as in freshwater ecology, rivers are commonly seen as nested hierarchical systems functioning over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Thus, for a comprehensive assessment, information on various scales is required. Over the past decade, remote sensing based approaches have become increasingly popular in river science to increase the spatial scale of analysis. However, data-scarce areas have been mostly ignored so far despite the fact that most remaining free flowing – and thus ecologically valuable – rivers worldwide are located in regions characterized by a lack of data sources like LiDAR or even aerial imagery. High resolution satellite data would be able to fill this data gap, but tends to be too costly for large scale applications what limits the ability for comprehensive studies on river systems in such remote areas. This in turn is a limitation for management and conservation of these rivers.

In this contribution, we suggest an approach for river corridor mapping based on open access data only in order to foster large scale geomorphological mapping of river corridors in data-scarce areas. For this aim, we combine advanced terrain analysis with multispectral remote sensing using the SRTM-1 DEM along with Landsat OLI imagery. We take the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan as an example to demonstrate the potential of these open access data sets to derive a comprehensive set of parameters for characterizing this river corridor. The methods are adapted to the specific characteristics of medium resolution open access data sets and include an innovative, fuzzy logic based approach for riparian zone delineation, longitudinal profile smoothing based on constrained quantile regression and a delineation of the active channel width as needed for specific stream power computation. In addition, an indicator for river dynamics based on Landsat time series is developed. For each derived river corridor parameter, a rigor validation is performed. The results demonstrate, that our open access approach for geomorphological mapping of river corridors is capable to provide results sufficiently accurate to derive reach averaged information. Thus, it is well suited for large scale river characterization in data-scarce regions where otherwise the river corridors would remain largely unexplored from an up-to-date riverscape perspective. Such a characterization might be an entry point for further, more detailed research in selected study reaches and can deliver the required comprehensive background information for a range of topics in river science.

How to cite: Betz, F., Lauermann, M., and Cyffka, B.: Open source riverscapes: Analyzing the river corridor of the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan based on open access data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4735,, 2021.