r.slope.aspect.1grass man page

r.slope.aspect — Generates raster maps of slope, aspect, curvatures and partial derivatives from an elevation raster map.
Aspect is calculated counterclockwise from east.


raster, terrain, aspect, slope, curvature


r.slope.aspect --help
r.slope.aspect [-a] elevation=name  [slope=name]   [aspect=name]   [format=string]   [precision=string]   [pcurvature=name]   [tcurvature=name]   [dx=name]   [dy=name]   [dxx=name]   [dyy=name]   [dxy=name]   [zscale=float]   [min_slope=float]   [--overwrite]  [--help]  [--verbose]  [--quiet]  [--ui]



Do not align the current region to the raster elevation map


Allow output files to overwrite existing files


Print usage summary


Verbose module output


Quiet module output


Force launching GUI dialog


elevation=name [required]

Name of input elevation raster map


Name for output slope raster map


Name for output aspect raster map


Format for reporting the slope
Options: degrees, percent
Default: degrees


Type of output aspect and slope maps
Default: FCELL


Name for output profile curvature raster map


Name for output tangential curvature raster map


Name for output first order partial derivative dx (E-W slope) raster map


Name for output first order partial derivative dy (N-S slope) raster map


Name for output second order partial derivative dxx raster map


Name for output second order partial derivative dyy raster map


Name for output second order partial derivative dxy raster map


Multiplicative factor to convert elevation units to horizontal units
Default: 1.0


Minimum slope value (in percent) for which aspect is computed
Default: 0.0


r.slope.aspect generates raster maps of slope, aspect, curvatures and first and second order partial derivatives from a raster map of true elevation values. The user must specify the input elevation raster map and at least one output raster maps. The user can also specify the format for slope (degrees, percent; default=degrees), and the zscale: multiplicative factor to convert elevation units to horizontal units; (default 1.0).

The elevation input raster map specified by the user must contain true elevation values, not rescaled or categorized data. If the elevation values are in other units than in the horizontal units, they must be converted to horizontal units using the parameter zscale. In GRASS GIS 7, vertical units are not assumed to be meters any more. For example, if both your vertical and horizontal units are feet, parameter zscale must not be used.

The aspect output raster map indicates the direction that slopes are facing. The aspect categories represent the number degrees of east. Category and color table files are also generated for the aspect raster map. The aspect categories represent the number degrees of east and they increase counterclockwise: 90 degrees is North, 180 is West, 270 is South 360 is East.
Note: These values can be transformed to azimuth (0 is North, 90 is East, etc) values using r.mapcalc:

# convert angles from CCW to north up
r.mapcalc "azimuth_aspect = (450 - ccw_aspect) % 360"

The aspect is not defined for slope equal to zero. Thus, most cells with a very small slope end up having category 0, 45, ..., 360 in aspect output. It is possible to reduce the bias in these directions by filtering out the aspect in areas where the terrain is almost flat. A option min_slope can be used to specify the minimum slope for which aspect is computed. The aspect for all cells with slope < min_slope is set to null (no-data).

The slope output raster map contains slope values, stated in degrees of inclination from the horizontal if format=degrees option (the default) is chosen, and in percent rise if format=percent option is chosen. Category and color table files are generated.

Profile and tangential curvatures are the curvatures in the direction of steepest slope and in the direction of the contour tangent respectively. The curvatures are expressed as 1/metres, e.g. a curvature of 0.05 corresponds to a radius of curvature of 20m. Convex form values are positive and concave form values are negative.

Example DEM
Slope (degree) from example DEM Aspect (degree) from example DEM
Tangential curvature (m-1) from example DEM Profile curvature (m-1) from example DEM

For some applications, the user will wish to use a reclassified raster map of slope that groups slope values into ranges of slope. This can be done using r.reclass. An example of a useful reclassification is given below:

          category      range   category labels
                     (in degrees)    (in percent)
             1         0-  1             0-  2%
             2         2-  3             3-  5%
             3         4-  5             6- 10%
             4         6-  8            11- 15%
             5         9- 11            16- 20%
             6        12- 14            21- 25%
             7        15- 90            26% and higher
     The following color table works well with the above
          category   red   green   blue
             0       179    179     179
             1         0    102       0
             2         0    153       0
             3       128    153       0
             4       204    179       0
             5       128     51      51
             6       255      0       0
             7         0      0       0


To ensure that the raster elevation map is not inappropriately resampled, the settings for the current region are modified slightly (for the execution of the program only): the resolution is set to match the resolution of the elevation raster map and the edges of the region (i.e. the north, south, east and west) are shifted, if necessary, to line up along edges of the nearest cells in the elevation map. If the user really wants the raster elevation map resampled to the current region resolution, the -a flag should be specified.

The current mask is ignored.

The algorithm used to determine slope and aspect uses a 3x3 neighborhood around each cell in the raster elevation map. Thus, it is not possible to determine slope and aspect for the cells adjacent to the edges in the elevation map layer. These cells are assigned a "zero slope" value (category 0) in both the slope and aspect raster maps.

Horn’s formula is used to find the first order derivatives in x and y directions.

Only when using integer elevation models, the aspect is biased in 0, 45, 90, 180, 225, 270, 315, and 360 directions; i.e., the distribution of aspect categories is very uneven, with peaks at 0, 45,..., 360 categories. When working with floating point elevation models, no such aspect bias occurs.


Calculation of slope, aspect, profile and tangential curvature

In this example a slope, aspect, profile and tangential curvature map are computed from an elevation raster map (North Carolina sample dataset):

g.region raster=elevation
r.slope.aspect elevation=elevation slope=slope aspect=aspect pcurvature=pcurv tcurvature=tcurv
# set nice color tables for output raster maps
r.colors -n map=slope color=sepia
r.colors map=aspect color=aspectcolr
r.colors map=pcurv color=curvature
r.colors map=tcurv color=curvature

Figure: Slope, aspect, profile and tangential curvature raster map (North Carolina dataset)

Classification of major aspect directions in compass orientation

In the following example (based on the North Carolina sample dataset) we first generate the standard aspect map (oriented CCW from East), then convert it to compass orientation, and finally classify four major aspect directions (N, E, S, W):

g.region raster=elevation -p
# generate aspect map with CCW orientation
r.slope.aspect elevation=elevation aspect=myaspect
# generate compass orientation and classify four major directions (N, E, S, W)
r.mapcalc "aspect_4_directions = eval( \\
   compass=(450 - myaspect ) % 360, \\
     if(compass >=0. && compass < 45., 1)  \\
   + if(compass >=45. && compass < 135., 2) \\
   + if(compass >=135. && compass < 225., 3) \\
   + if(compass >=225. && compass < 315., 4) \\
   + if(compass >=315., 1) \\
# assign text labels
r.category aspect_4_directions separator=comma rules=- << EOF
# assign color table
r.colors aspect_4_directions rules=- << EOF
1 253,184,99
2 178,171,210
3 230,97,1
4 94,60,153

Aspect map classified to four major compass directions (zoomed subset shown)


  • Horn, B. K. P. (1981). Hill Shading and the Reflectance Map, Proceedings of the IEEE, 69(1):14-47.
  • Mitasova, H. (1985). Cartographic aspects of computer surface modeling. PhD thesis. Slovak Technical University , Bratislava
  • Hofierka, J., Mitasova, H., Neteler, M., 2009. Geomorphometry in GRASS GIS. In: Hengl, T. and Reuter, H.I. (Eds), Geomorphometry: Concepts, Software, Applications. Developments in Soil Science, vol. 33, Elsevier, 387-410 pp, http://www.geomorphometry.org

See Also

r.mapcalc, r.neighbors, r.reclass, r.rescale


Michael Shapiro, U.S.Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory
Olga Waupotitsch, U.S.Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory

Last changed: $Date: 2015-08-12 11:48:51 +0200 (Wed, 12 Aug 2015) $

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