Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Research article
19 Jun 2019
Research article |  | 19 Jun 2019

A versatile, linear complexity algorithm for flow routing in topographies with depressions

Guillaume Cordonnier, Benoît Bovy, and Jean Braun

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Cited articles

Banninger, D.: Technical Note: Water flow routing on irregular meshes, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1243–1247,, 2007. a
Barnes, R.: Parallel Priority-Flood depression filling for trillion cell digital elevation models on desktops or clusters, Comput. Geosci., 96, 56–68,, 2016. a, b
Barnes, R.: RichDEM: Terrain Analysis Software, available at: (last access: 6 November 2018), 2018. a
Barnes, R., Lehman, C., and Mulla, D.: Priority-flood: An optimal depression-filling and watershed-labeling algorithm for digital elevation models, Comput. Geosci., 62, 117–127,, 2014a. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j
Barnes, R., Lehman, C., and Mulla, D.: An efficient assignment of drainage direction over flat surfaces in raster digital elevation models, Comput. Geosci., 62, 128–135,, 2014b. a
Short summary
We propose a new algorithm to solve the problem of flow routing across local depressions in the topography, one of the main computational bottlenecks in landscape evolution models. Our solution is more efficient than the state-of-the-art algorithms, with an optimal linear asymptotic complexity. The algorithm has been designed specifically to be used within landscape evolution models, and also suits more generally the efficient treatment of large digital elevation models.