RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program US Forest Service - RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program

US Forest Service Research and Development


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Rocky Mountain Research Station
 RMRS Science Program Areas
 Air, Water and Aquatics Science Program
 Research Subject Areas
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About the Rocky Mountain Research Station

AWAE Program Headquarters
322 East Front St., Ste 401

Boise, ID 83702

(208) 373-4340


Rocky Mountain Research Station Headquarters

2150 Centre Ave., Bldg A
Fort Collins, CO 80526

(970) 295-5923

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Spatial Analysis: awae research subject areas

GIS image

Spatial Analysis involves the processing of multiple geographic themes to help understand new relationships among features on the landscape. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) are the primary disciplines that support Spatial Analysis. At AWAE, GIS and RS are used in numerous applications such as modeling sediment yield from roads, estimating soil erosion rates, predicting stream temperatures, and mapping aquatic habitat.


Specialists (profile pages)


bulletDavid Nagel

bulletSharon (Parkes) Payne


bulletJim McKean

bulletTom Black

bulletCharlie Luce

bulletDan Isaak


Quick Jump to:

bulletRiver Bathymetry

bulletRemote Sensing: Channels

bulletGRAIP: Road Impacts

bulletStream Temperature

bulletSpatial Statistical Modeling

bulletNorWeST Database

bullet Estimating Valley Confinement

featured Science


River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)

River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)

Traditional techniques for describing and understanding aquatic physical habitat in streams have focused on manual measurements of channel topography. New remote sensing techniques, such as airborne water-penetrating Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and boat-mounted acoustic sensors can produce highly accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) with continuous coverage of long segments of channels and stream networks. The US Forest Service and ESSA Technologies have developed a suite of GIS tools, the River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT), for processing high resolution DEMs of channels. Our goal is to characterize in-stream and floodplain geomorphology to support aquatic habitat analyses and numerical models of flow and sediment transport. The (RBT) is available for free and is under active development.

River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)



LiDAR image

Remotely Assessing and Monitoring Channel Physical Habitat

NASA’s Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) was used to continuously map three-dimensional channel and floodplain topography, in streams that provide spawning habitat of a federal listed (threatened) population of Chinook salmon. Data were acquired over 200 km of streams in low-flow conditions with high water clarity in October, 2004, in Idaho’s Bear Valley Creek, a tributary stream in the upper Middle Fork Salmon River drainage.


Science Briefing




Bull Trout Monitoring image

GRAIP- Quantifying and Prioritizing Road Impacts

The Geomorphic Road Assessment and Inventory Package (GRAIP) is a process and a set of tools for analyzing the impacts of roads on forested watersheds. GRAIP combines a road inventory with a powerful GIS analysis tool set to predict sediment production and delivery, mass wasting risk from gullies and landslides, stream diversion potential, culvert maintenance and fish passage at stream crossings.


GRAIP Science Briefing   |   GRAIP Website


Road Decommissioning: Picking the Right Road






Stream image

Stream Temperature Modeling

Stream thermal regimes are important within regulatory contexts and strongly affect aquatic ecosystems. Numerous approaches have been developed for modeling stream temperatures, but broad application of these models to USFS lands has been constrained by data limitations and poor predictive ability. RMRS scientists have developed an approach to modeling stream temperatures that requires a minimum of field effort by using existing temperature records in combination with GIS and remote sensing technologies. The approach is being applied in a central Idaho watershed to map thermal habitat networks for native fish species, but could also be used to forecast future habitat distributions, improve understanding of factors affecting stream temperatures, determine compliance with water quality standards, or optimize temperature sampling strategies. 


Science Briefing  |  Stream Temperature Modeling Website









Stream Network ArcGIS Toolbox

SSN & STARS: Tools for Spatial Statistical Modeling on Stream Networks

Spatial statistical models for streams provide a new set of analytical tools that can be used to improve predictions of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics on stream networks. These models are unique because they account for patterns of spatial autocorrelation among locations based on both Euclidean and in-stream distances. They also have practical applications for the design of monitoring strategies and the derivation of information from databases with non-random sample locations. Generating the spatial data needed to fit these statistical models requires practical skills in multiple disciplines including ecology, geospatial science, and statistics. This is the home page for two sets of tools that have been developed to make the methodology more accessible to users: the STARS ArcGIS toolset and the SSN package for R statistical software. These models were developed by researchers at NOAA and CSIRO.


Spatial Statistical Modeling Website


Science Briefing









NorWest Stream Temperature - Regional Database and Model


The NorWeST webpage hosts stream temperature data and geospatial map outputs from a regional temperature model for the Northwest U.S. The temperature database was compiled from hundreds of biologists and hydrologists working for dozens of resource agencies and contains more than 45 million hourly temperature recordings at more than 15 thousand unique stream sites. These temperature data are being used with spatial statistical stream network models to develop an accurate and consistent set of climate scenarios for all streams.


Temperature data and model outputs are posted to the website after QA/QC procedures and development of the final temperature model within a river basin. It is hoped that open access to the data and the availability of accurate stream temperature scenarios will foster new research and collaborative relationships among agencies that enhance our ability to manage and conserve aquatic resources.


NorWeST Regional Database and Modeled Stream Temperature Website


Science Briefing






A National Stream Internet

A National Stream Internet


A National Stream Internet will enable consistent application of sophisticated analysis tools to many types of stream data and databases throughout the U.S.


Science Briefing



Estimating Valley Confinement

Estimating Valley Confinement

Valley confinement is an important landscape characteristic that provides vital ecosystem functions.


Science Briefing


Research Subject Areas




bulletAquatic Ecology

bulletAtmospheric Sciences


bulletClimate Change




Fire & Fuels








Plant Physiology

bulletSediment & Erosion

bulletSpatial Analysis

bulletWater & Watershed Processes




NorWeST Stream Temperature- Regional Database and Model


Stream Temperature Modeling Website


SSN and STARS: Tools for Spatial Statistical Modeling on Stream Networks


River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)


Bull Trout and Climate Change - Risks, Uncertainties and Opportunities for Mapping the Future



Rocky Mountain Research Station - Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Sciences Program
Last Modified:  Thursday, 03 April 2014 at 18:36:59 CDT

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