How accurate and usable is GDEM? A statistical assessment of GDEM using LiDAR data

TitleHow accurate and usable is GDEM? A statistical assessment of GDEM using LiDAR data
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHengl, T., and H.  I. Reuter
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary AuthorsHengl, T., I.  S. Evans, J.  P. Wilson, and M. Gould
Conference NameGeomorphometry 2011
Conference LocationRedlands, CA

A methodological framework for assessing accuracy of the GDEM product is described using four small case studies in areas of variable relief and forect canopy (Booschord in the Netherlands, Calabria in Italy, Fishcamp in USA and Zlatibor in Serbia). Focus is put on evaluating the true accuracy of ASTER GDEM using LiDAR data aggregated to 30 m resolution. Three aspects of accuracy have been evaluated: (a) absolute accuracy of elevations (goodness of fit between true and GDEM elevations), (2) accuracy of stream networks (goodness of fit for buffer distance maps for stream networks), and (3) accuracy of surface roughness parameters (goodness of representation of nugget variation and residual errors). Results show that GDEM seems to be of little use in areas of low relief ( <20 m), as in such areas the difference between the topographic features will be statistically significant. Nugget variation in all cases is 3-8 times lower than in the LiDAR DEMs, which indicates that surface roughness is under-estimated. These results also suggest that an adjusted R-square of >.995 could be used as the threshold level for a satisfactory fit between LiDAR and GDEM (this R-square corresponds to RMSE of <10 m). For stream networks, an R-square of >.60 seems to be satisfactory. Analysis of the short-range variability allows determination of the effective grid cell size that more closely matches the true surface roughness. These results support previous work that indicates that a more suitable grid cell size for GDEM v1 is about 90 m.

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