Published June 18, 2020 | Version 7.5.0
Software Open

Geomorphic Change Detection Software

  • 1. North Arrow Research
  • 2. Utah State University
  • 3. University of Canterbury


The GCD software was developed primarily for topographic change detection in rivers, but will work for simple, raster-based change detection of any two surfaces. The volumetric change in storage is calculated from the difference in surface elevations from digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from repeat topographic surveys.

As each DEM has an uncertain surface representation (which might vary in space and time), our ability to detect changes between surveys is highly dependent on surface representation uncertainties inherent in the individual DEMs. The fundamental problem is separating out the changes between the surveys that are due to topographic change as opposed to noise in the survey data. GCD provides a suite of tools for quantifying those uncertainties independently in each DEM and propagating them through to the DEM of difference. The program also provides ways for segregating the best estimates of change spatially using different types of masks. The overall suite of tools is more generically applicable to many different spatial raster-based change detection problems.


This software consists of a stand-alone Windows application, as well as a ESRI ArcGIS 10.x AddIn. Both pieces of software are free, but the standalone has no GIS or mapping interface (though produces datasets that can be viewed in any GIS). The ESRI AddIn is also free, but requires use of commercial ArcGIS 10.x software. Both of the versions run off the same core, open-source code, with no ESRI dependencies.


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