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NHDPlus stream branching geometry and climatic aridity aggregated by junction

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Created: Dec 27, 2020 at 2:24 p.m.
Last updated: Jan 21, 2021 at 1:41 a.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.0b93e7c659fe4fc59bf6a202c269313c
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Climate signatures recorded in the geometry of branching streams provide insight into climate and landscape histories on Earth and other planetary bodies. Recent findings establish that branching angles are narrower and stream profiles are straighter in more arid climates. However, these two observations have been attributed to different mechanisms. Aggregating publicly sourced data from the National Hydrography Dataset, we demonstrate that for US watersheds the difference in slope between confluent streams increases with humidity, and streams with a greater difference in slope tend to branch at wider angles. Our observations suggest a branching angle endmember of 90 degrees when stream slopes are most different. Using a simple model of runoff erosion, we show how this variation in relative stream slopes can be explained by a shift in streamflow accumulation across climate regimes. These findings connect previously observed climate signatures in branching angles and stream profiles, suggesting that both record the same control of aridity on surface flow.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Related Resources

The content of this resource is derived from Wieczorek, M.E., Jackson, S.E., and Schwarz, G.E., 2018, Select Attributes for NHDPlus Version 2.1 Reach Catchments and Modified Network Routed Upstream Watersheds for the Conterminous United States (ver. 2.0, November 2019): U.S. Geological Survey data release,
The content of this resource is derived from USEPA, & USGS. (2012). National Hydrography Dataset Plus Version 2.1. (Available at:



People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Department of Geosciences Princeton University Princeton University Department of Geosciences, Guyot Hall, Princeton NJ 08544 609-258-4101

How to Cite

Getraer, A., A. Maloof (2021). NHDPlus stream branching geometry and climatic aridity aggregated by junction, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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