Is there any free program or package that has the same function as Depression evaluation tool in ArcHydro tool from ArcGIS?

I am currently working on extracting depressions from DEMs as well as their respective drainage area. Depression analysis function does exactly what I want, which is defining the depressions in DEM and the drainage area of each depression. However, I no longer have access to ArcGIS.

I know that I can extract the depressions using the stochastic depression analysis tool from Whitebox tools. Also, I am familiar with QGIS, but I was unable to find the same thing in either QGIS or Whitebox.

2 Answers 2


I have ArcGIS and still prefer using TauDEM to do the job. E.g. this bat-file

cd c:\Program Files\TauDEM\TauDEM5Exe
mpiexec -n 8 pitremove -z "C:\scratch\dem" -fel ""C:\scratch\Filled.tif"
mpiexec -n 8 D8FlowDir -fel "C:\SCRATCH\Filled.tif" -p "C:\SCRATCH\FDIR.tif" -sd8 "C:\SCRATCH\Slope.tif"
mpiexec -n 8 AreaD8 -p "C:\SCRATCH\FDIR.tif" -ad8 "C:\SCRATCH\FACC.tif" -nc
mpiexec -n 8 Threshold -ssa "C:\SCRATCH\FACC.tif" -src "C:\SCRATCH\STREAMS.tif" -thresh 10000
mpiexec -n 4 StreamNet -fel "C:\SCRATCH\Filled.tif" -p "C:\SCRATCH\FDIR.tif" -ad8 "C:\SCRATCH\FACC.tif" -src "C:\SCRATCH\STREAMS.tif" -ord "C:\SCRATCH\Filledord.tif" -tree "C:\SCRATCH\Filledtree.txt" -coord "C:\SCRATCH\Filledcoord.txt" -net "C:\SCRATCH\Fillednet.shp" -w "C:\SCRATCH\Filledw.tif"

Is equivalent to:

enter image description here

but works much faster.

  • Does this calculate the overall drainage area for the basin? Or, it does calculate the drainage area (contributing area) for individual depressions? Mar 31, 2020 at 1:05
  • Perhaps go through tools shown in the model to understand what it does. You can find depressions by using (Filled - DEM)>0. Etc. I also suggest you read TauDEM documentation.
    – FelixIP
    Mar 31, 2020 at 3:39
  • When I tried your approach, it gave me the subbasins of the study area, which is not what I want. I need to get the drainage area for each individual depression. I found a way to do exactly what I want using the Whitebox tool. check my answer below. Apr 1, 2020 at 6:06
  • You can specify depressions as input to Streamnet, simply replace Stream.tif.
    – FelixIP
    Apr 1, 2020 at 7:14

I found a way to do exactly what depression evaluation function from ArcHydroTools does but using the free Whitebox tool software.

The following steps need to be done to get the depressions and their respective drainage area from the DEM.

  1. use the sink function to extract the depressions from the DEM. This function requires the DEM as the input raster.
  2. use the D8 Flow Pointer function to get the D8 flow direction. This function requires the DEM as the input raster.
  3. use the watershed function to delineate the drainage area for each depression. The resulting rasters from sink and D8 Flow Pointer are used as inputs. Using this combination, the function watershed delineates the DEM considering that each depression is a separate outlet enter image description here

The final product is attached below, which is almost identical to the output of the depression evaluation function from ArcHydroTools. The Whitebox tool is available as stand-alone software, an R package, and a python package, which makes it very useful to be used on different platforms and OS.

enter image description here

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