Spatial Tools for River basins and Environment and Analysis of Management options - STREAM

STREAM is a raster based hydrological rainfall-runoff model, based on the Thorntwaite-Mather (1957) approach. STREAM is a transparent model, which is easy to set up, run and modify. It only requires input data on precipitation, temperature, elevation, soil (water holding capacity) and land cover as inputs (Aerts et al., 1999). STREAM is currently scripted as a Matlab© script, which can be downloaded and used for free, making use of the Topotoolbox (Schwanghart and Kuhn, 2010) for its routing. Please acknowledge these sources when using STREAM. Using STREAM requires some basic GIS skills to prepare input maps, as well as some experience with Matlab© to run the script. 

STREAM intro 1

Because of its flexibility, it can be set up quickly for any size catchment, given that the right input data is available. Currently it has been used from global scale to medium/small sized catchments. It has been used many times in places where there is no detailed information available, relying on publicly available global datasets for its input. See the publications page for a comprehensive overview of studies in which STREAM has successfully been used, and below for some examples. If you have any questions about the model, don’t hesitate to contact anyone from the STREAM team (see contact details below). 

STREAM scheme

Global Holocene and future climate change STREAM figure water 1

Aerts et al. (2006) used STREAM and a transient climate model to simulate river discharges from 9000 BP until 2100 for around 20 mayor catchments around the globe. The model results were validated against geological proxy data (see also Ward et al., 2007).



  STREAM figure water 1Global Water Scarcity

STREAM has also been employed at the global scale to assess water scarcity. Using estimates on water availability from STREAM, Kummu et al. (2010) modelled spatial and temporal evolution of global water scarcity.



Coastal zone managementSTREAM CZM 1

At a more regional level, STREAM has been used in Madagascar to estimate the influx of freshwater and related sediment discharge into coastal zones with coral reefs (Maina et al. 2013). Scenarios for land use change and climate change were used to evaluate its impacts on the coastal zone in the light of conservation of coral reefs.




STREAM Sea Level 1

Regional sea level

STREAM has also been used to study regional sea-level rise of the Caspian Sea (Renssen et al., 2007). STREAM was used to simulate the freshwater discharge into the Caspian Sea from all the surrounding catchments in order simulate sea-levels change during the Holocene and into the 21st century.





Link to Publication page

Link to Download page