The geomorphic floodplain zoning tool known as GFPLAIN — for Global Floodplain — is an open-source program that can be shared with scientists and professional around the world. It will allow them to identify floodplain boundaries, identify morphology and landscape patterns and process regional topographic datasets in minutes or even seconds on a continental scale.

“Observing any aerial image of fluvial corridors, one can clearly distinguish floodplain boundaries by their unique shapes and colors,” explained lead author Nardi, associate professor and director of the Water Resources Research and Documentation Centre at the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

“These unique floodplain properties are linked to water-driven erosion and deposition processes, mainly associated to historical flood events, that give shape to fluvial landforms,” Nardi said. “We found and exploited the principle that global topographic datasets implicitly contain the floodplain extent information, and we have released the first global geomorphic model of Earth’s floodplain together with a easy-to-use tool that both researchers and professional can use for their floodplain mapping projects.“

By sharing the dataset of global floodplains as open data, the research team has provided novel opportunities for scientists and professionals worldwide to develop sustainable water management plans and to gain a better understanding of complex floodplain-urban interactions, especially in data-poor river basins that are stressed by growing human populations.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration