Topographic Index maps are grids derived from digital elevation models (DEMs). These grid include only topographical information. It makes use of an index of hydrological similarity based on topographic data.Originally developed in the TOPMODEL framework (Beven et al., 1984).TOPMODEL was one of the first attempts to model distributed hydrological responses based on variable contributing area concepts. Has since been applied outside of the TOPMODEL framework in GWLF, SWAT..
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3. Topographic Indices assume that topography drives flows.
Thus, the index may not capture conditions in areas where there are other more dominant processes governing the flow.
However, it generally correctly predicts the accumulation of flow in topological low spots (e.g., areas where the flows accumulate).