HRUweb Tutorial

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The HRUweb is a web tool which was developed to delineate hydrological response units (HRU) online. It was implemented in Python and calculates HRUs according to open-source GRASS-GIS algorithms.

After every processing step, the results are provided as raster or shape data which are all compatible with established GIS formats.

For this tutorial, sample data from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil were used.


Starting HRUweb Tool

Link to HRU Tool:

Structure of HRUweb user interface

The map window is located in the centre. By using the arrow buttons or the +/- tool bar in the top left, the view can be set manually. The remaining items are located around the map:

  1. Table of Layers
    1. Change order of layer visibility by using drag and drop
    2. Select a layer by clicking on it. Now the layer can be edited by using the Map Legend.
  2. Map Legend (→ section Map Legend Description see below)
  3. Wizard: Processing step description and manual input/settings. Includes the buttons for 'Run' and 'Next'.
  4. Server Log and Results: Shows the uploading process & provides the result layer as raster or shape file. (→ click on Open processlog.png to reveal the item and to hide it again)

User interface.png

Map Legend Description

Legend menue.png

  1. Remove layer
  2. Zoom to map extend: restores smallest possible scale of the map
  3. Zoom in the map (Lupe plus.png) or zoom out of the map (Lupe minus.png)
  4. Zoom to previous map extend (backward Pfeil l.png forward)
  5. Create bounding box of interest (→ section Step 2)
  6. Relocate gauge (→ section Step 6)
  7. User login (→ NEXT STEP)

Step 0: Check Your Data

First of all: Do user login!

Otherwise, your work will not be saved!

User login.png

Check your input data!

Then, open your input data in a GIS and check them for:

  • completeness: At least DEM and gauges are required for delineating HRUs. The rasters of landuse, soil and geology are optional input.
  • projection: The coordinate system has to be metric (like e.g. UTM) in order to enable distance calculations.
  • layer extend: The layers should have at least the size of the catchment. A base map could be helpful.

Input data Description Format
DEM Raster of Digital Elevation Model Tiff (.tif) or .zip-file mandatory
Gauges Layer of gauging stations .zip-file mandatory
Landuse Raster of landuse Tiff (.tif) or .zip-file optional
Soil Raster of soil Tiff (.tif) or .zip-file optional
Geology Raster of geology Tiff (.tif) or .zip-file optional

All datasets that are uploaded as ZIP archvives need to comply to the following rules:

  1. The archive must not contain any subdirectories
  2. The archive's name (before .zip) must be identical to the file name(s) inside (e.g., if your Shapefile consists of multiple files named outlets.shp, outlets.dbf, outlets.prj etc., your ZIP archive must be named

The following sections describe the single substeps in the HRUweb Tool. Each substep is divided into the subsections Aim, Procedure and Results.

Step 1: Define Data Sources

Aim: Upload input data or choose data via catalog.


The required input data are described in Step 0.
You have two options to define the dem input data:
Choice dem.png
  • Upload your own local input data
  • Use input data via catalog: choose the DEM you need by clicking on 'add'.
Note:The chosen DEM is listed in the Table of Layers as a new layer. You can edit it by clicking on the layer and using the Map Legend.
CATALOG.pngDem layer.png

The projection of the map will be set automatically on the basis of the input data.
For starting the uploading process, click 'Run' in the Wizard.

Run next.png


The overlays 'Upload' and 'Gauges' are created in the Map View as well as the Table of Layers.
Overlays step1.png
Zoom into your area of interest.
The gauges are shown in light blue dots. The area of the gauges is marked automatically in a red bounding box.
Map step1.png
//Note: If the 'Upload' or the 'Gauges' layer are removed, the whole uploading procedure has to be done again by reloading the page.

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 2: Data Setup

Aim: Define area of interest for delineating HRUs.


In this step, you can specify your region of interest.
The red box marks the maximum extend. Data outside of this extend are not delineated.
//Note: If the red bounding box does already represent your region of interest, you can skip the next step and click 'Run'.

If you want to specify your region of interest, click on the box symbol Data setup use box.png in the Map Legend.
By clicking on the symbol, another overlay layer called 'Region' is created.
Region layer.png
The automatically set red bounding box is now covered by a blue box.
Blue bbox.png
This blue box represents the area that should be used for delineating HRUs later on. Due to computational reasons, its extend should
be fitted to the gauges' positions.
Fit it by clicking on the outline of the blue box and move it at the blue crosses :Cross.png .
In order to shift the whole box, drag&drop it by the blue cross in the centre.
In order to resize the box, use the cross at the side.
//Note: The 'Region' layer can be removed without problems. To do so, right-click on the layer and choose "remove".

By clicking on Data setup use box.png, the region layer can be restored again.
//Note: If the extend of the blue box is chosen too small, important parts for delineating HRUs could be left out which makes the results unusable.

Edited blue cross.png
For starting the process, click 'Run'.


A 'Hillshade' overlay is created in the Table of Layers and showed in the Map.
Overlays step2.png
Result mapp.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 3: Data Preparation

Aim: Preprocess the DEM by filling its sinks.

If the DEM was already preprocessed that way, no sink filling is necessary.
Otherwise, it is recommended to do so in order to prevent lack of data.


Choose "Filling" (default) in the Wizard window, if the sinks should be filled or "No filling", if they should not be filled.
Selection step3.png
For starting the process, click 'Run'.


A DEM with filled sinks is created.
Single maps of sinkless elevation, slope and aspect can be downloaded from Server Log.
Databrowser step3.png
//Note: If filling fails, no maps for slope and aspect are available.

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 4: Reclassification

Aim: Reclassify terrain attributes.


In this step, the class ranges of slope and aspect can be reclassified and renamed.
In order to change table entries, click in the concerning field and type in the desired value.
"Old": lists all existing class ranges
"New": assigns IDs to classes
Class table change.png


How to choose the best settings for ranges of values of slope and aspect ?

For starting the process, click 'Run'.


The reclassified layers 'aspect' and 'slope' are listed in The Table of Layers.
Overlays step4.png
Aspect and slope are also shown as maps.
The reclassified maps of slope and aspect can be downloaded from Server Log as well.
Downloadbrowser step4.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 5: Waterflow

Aim: Define resolution of the stream network/ river system.


With each subbasin, one river segment is created. In this step, the maximum number of cells (pixels) for a subbasin of the smallest size has to be specified.
In this tutorial, the cellsize was defined by 10.000 pixels.

HELP: HOW TO FIND THE BEST MAXIMUM CELL SIZE FOR THE SMALLEST SUBBASIN ?/ choose the best settings for number of pixels for the smallest subbasin

Depending on, how detailed the river network does look like. Compare to Google Earth.
For starting the process, click 'Run'.


The layers 'Streams' and 'Subbasins' are created.
Overlays step5.png

In the map view, the subbasin as well as the stream network layer are shown.

You can download a map of the subbasins in raster and shape format and a vector zip file of stream network from Server Log.
Databrowser step5.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 6: Outlets

Aim: Check the gauges' position and decide which gauges should be considered.

While creating the subbasins, the gauges' position can differ from the stream network.


First of all, use the drag and drop mechanism to change the visibility of the layers in the layer view (→ section Starting the Webtool).
Order the layer of gauges on top, followed by the layer of streams and the subbasins.
Gauge top.png :Gauge top map.png

Check gauges:
  • Context: Take a look on the hydrological data- What kind of river properties (amount/ velocity of discharge, water level, etc.) were measured? Are the data comprehensible compared to their position in the map?
  • Google Earth: You can save your shapefile of gauges as a .kml-file and open it in Google Earth. Then zoom in to the gauges. The satellite imagerys can be a helpful reference to verify the position of the gauges.
//Note: The positions can differ significantly in Google Earth, so always doublecheck the positions by its hydrological context!

Now the tool for relocating gauges had to be activated. Click on Relocator.png in the legend to activate it.
In order to relocate a gauge, click on a gauge and drag it to the proper river segment.

//Note: For every gauge on a river segment, a catchment is created. If a gauge should not be considered in the further delineation of HRUs, just drag it out of the blue bounding box.
When you are finished, click on Relocator.png to deactivate the tool again!

For starting the process, click 'Run'.
//Note: If you forgot to deactivate the tool, wait until the process is finished and deactivate the tool. Now click on 'Run' again.


The layer 'Watershed' is listed in the Table of Layers.
Overlays step6.png
A map of the watersheds is shown in the Map View and can be downloaded from Server Log.
MAPview step6.png
Databrowser step6.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 7: Dataoverlay

Aim: Computing HRUs.


Specify the number of cells (pixels) for the smallest HRU in the wizard.
In this tutorial, the number of the smallest HRU was defined by 10.
Nrofcells step7.png

  • HRU should cover between 1-10 ha( 10.000 - 100.000 m²) --> depends on cell size of the dem used.

For starting the process, click 'Run'.


The layer 'HRU' is created in the layer overview and shown in the map view.
Overlays step7.png
Mapview7 step7.png
A map of the created HRUs is provided in the server log
Download step7.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 8 Routing

Aim: Creating topology information.


In this step, all calculations are done by the WebTool.
No user activity is required here.
For starting the process, click 'Run'.


All rounting parameter are available in the server log. They are provided as .csv-tables.
Download step8.png

When finished, click 'Next'.

Step 9 Statistics

Aim: Collecting statistics per HRU.


In this step, all calculations are done by the WebTool.
No user activity is required here.
For starting the process, click 'Run'.
In order to see the results, click 'Next'.


Shapefiles of the HRUs as well as their parameters can be downloaded from the server log.
Download step9.png
The results of all steps can be downloaded in a zip-file.
Zip step9.png


If the delineation shall be repeated, click on:
New step9.png

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