Delineation of endorheic drainage basins in the MERIT-Plus dataset for 5 and 15 minute upscaled river networks


The MERIT-Hydro networks re-gridded by the Iterative Hydrography Upscaling (IHU) algorithm do not retain exo- or endorheic basin attributes from the original data. Here we developed methods to assign such attributes to those and any other digital river networks. The motivation is that endorheic inland drainage basins are essential for hydrologic modelling of global and regional water balances, land surface water storage, gravity anomalies, sea level rise, etc. First, we create basin attributes that explicitly label endorheic and exorheic catchments by the criteria of direct or hidden connectivity to the ocean without changing their flow direction grid. In the second step we alter the delineation of endorheic basins by the merging algorithm that eliminates small inland watersheds to the adjacent host basins. The resulting datasets have a significantly reduced number of endorheic basins while preserving the total land portion and topology of the inland basins. The data was validated using the Water Balance Model by comparing volume of endorheic inland depressions with modelled water accumulation in their inland lakes.

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