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Flow Distance

Summary

Computes, for each cell, the horizontal or vertical component of minimum downslope distance, following the flow path(s), to cell(s) on a stream into which they flow.

If an optional flow direction raster is provided, the down slope direction(s) will be limited to those defined by the input flow direction raster.

Illustration

Flow Distance tool illustration

Usage

  • To limit downslope directions along which minimum flow distance is measured, provide an optional input flow direction raster that can be derived using the Flow Direction tool. Choose from D8, D-Infinity (DINF) and multi flow direction (MFD) flow models while generating an optional input flow direction raster. Use the Input flow direction type to specify which method was used when the flow direction raster was created.

  • If an optional input flow direction raster is provided, it is recommended that this raster be created using the Flow Direction tool using the same input surface raster that you'll provide to the Flow Distance tool.

    If this input surface raster is void of sinks, the distance measurements would be to stream cells represented by the input stream raster.

    If this input surface raster has sinks present, some flow paths can get terminated short by them flowing into sinks before reaching streams. In such cases, flow distance measurements for these cells are calculated only up to the sink cells into which they flow.

  • When the tool is run without providing an optional flow direction raster, minimum flow distance is assessed considering all possible downslope flow paths from each cell to cell(s) on a stream into which they flow.

    When the tool is run with an optional D8 flow direction raster, there is only one possible downslope flow path from every cell to a cell on the stream and flow distance is measured along this single flow path.

  • It is recommended to create the input stream raster using the same input surface raster that is provided as input to the tool. If you have a Spatial Analyst extension license available, you can create stream rasters from an input surface raster using the Flow Direction, Flow Accumulation and Con tools respectively. If you wish to use streams from other data sources, for best results, you would have to burn them into the input surface raster first and then running the Flow Distance tool.

Syntax

FlowDistance_ra (inputStreamRaster, inputSurfaceRaster, outputName, {inputFlowDirectionRaster}, {distanceType}, {flowDirectionType})
ParameterExplanationData Type
inputStreamRaster

The input raster that defines the stream network.

Raster Layer; Image Service; String
inputSurfaceRaster

The input raster representing a continuous surface.

Raster Layer; Image Service; String
outputName

The name of the output flow distance raster service.

The default name is based on the tool name and the input layer name. If the layer already exists, you will be asked to provide another name.

String
inputFlowDirectionRaster
(Optional)

The input raster that shows the direction of flow out of each cell.

When a flow direction raster is provided, the down slope direction(s) will be limited to those defined by the input flow directions.

The flow direction raster can be created using D8, Multiple Flow Direction (MFD) and D-Infinity methods. Use the flowDirectionType parameter to specify which method was used when the flow direction raster was created.

Raster Layer; Image Service; String
distanceType
(Optional)

The distance type to be calculated.

  • VERTICALThe flow distance calculations represent the vertical component of minimum flow distance, following the flow path, from each cell in the domain to cell(s) on the stream into which they flow. This is the default.
  • HORIZONTALThe flow distance calculations represent the horizontal component of minimum flow distance, following the flow path, from each cell in the domain to cell(s) on the stream into which they flow.
String
flowDirectionType
(Optional)

The input flow direction raster can be of type D8, Multi Flow Direction (MFD) or D-Infinity (DINF).

  • D8The input flow direction raster is of type D8. This is the default.
  • MFDThe input flow direction raster is of type Multi Flow Direction (MFD).
  • DINFThe input flow direction raster is of type D-Infinity (DINF).
String

Code sample

FlowDistance example 1 (Python window)

This example calculates the minimum downslope horizontal flow distance to a cell on the stream raster.

import arcpy
arcpy.FlowDistance_ra("https://myserver/rest/services/streams/ImageServer","https://myserver/rest/services/elevation_fill/ImageServer","outFlowDistanceVertical1")
FlowDistance example 2 (stand-alone script)

This example calculates the minimum downslope vertical flow distance to a cell on the stream raster.

#---------------------------------------------------------------------------
# Name: FlowDistance_example02.py
# Requirements: ArcGIS Image Server

# Import system modules
import arcpy

# Set local variables
inStreams = "https://myserver/rest/services/streams/ImageServer"
inSurface = "https://myserver/rest/services/elevation_fill/ImageServer"
outputFlowDistance = "outFlowDistanceVertical2"
inFlowDirection = ""
distanceType = "VERTICAL"

# Execute Flow Distance raster analysis tool
arcpy.FlowDistance_ra(inStreams, inSurface, outputFlowDistance, inFlowDirection, distanceType)

Licensing information

  • ArcGIS Desktop Basic: Requires ArcGIS Image Server
  • ArcGIS Desktop Standard: Requires ArcGIS Image Server
  • ArcGIS Desktop Advanced: Requires ArcGIS Image Server

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