Open Source Software for Preprocessing GIS Data for Hydrological Models

Open Source Software for Preprocessing GIS Data for Hydrological Models

IHE Delft

Wed, Jun 26 2019

For many studies models are used or developed. During modelling courses not much attention is paid to the preprocessing of input data and parameters needed for the models. A lot of open source software is available for this purpose. Besides desktop tools with graphical user interfaces, scripting is very useful for processing large datasets and timeseries. With the skills learned in this course you will be able to more efficiently process your data and setup and improve your models.

Learning objectives

After this course you will be able to: 

Understand the basic concepts of GIS Raster, vector, projections, geospatial analysis. Use a GIS for:

  • Thematic mapping
  • Basic data processing and editing
  • Basic geoprocessing and analysis
  • DEM processing and catchment delineation
  • Find open source software and open data

Course Format

ExerciseSoftwareStudy load (hours)
Digitizing from a scanned mapQGIS4
Importing tabular data into GIS and interpolationQGIS4
Importing data from a GPS and conversion to vectorQGIS4
Spatial planning using map algebraQGIS


Catchment delineationQGIS


Using Open Access dataQGIS4
Styling and map designQGIS4
Introduction to DOS and GDALGDAL8




The free and open source software (FOSS) used in this course are: 

  • QGIS version 3.4 (newer versions have not been tested)
  • GDAL QGIS is a desktop GIS similar to the commercial ArcGIS software. GDAL is the Geodata Abstraction Layer, a set of open source tools that can be used to convert between GIS formats and to reproject data in a standardized way. GDAL commands can also be used in scripts. During the course basic scripting skills will be acquired: shell scripts and the Python programming language.

The following books are suggested to support the course:

The course is designed for professionals (engineers and scientists) active in the water/environmental sector, especially those involved in planning and management of water systems as well as numerical modelling. Pre-requisites are a basic knowledge of computing and water related topics.