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digital terrain modeling

digital terrain modeling

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  • Executive Summary
  • 3. Overview of DEM Generation Technologies
  • 3.2 Accuracy Considerations
  • 3.3 LiDAR
  • 4. Project Work Plan
  • 5. Test Area Locations
  • 7.2 GPS Survey of Height Profiles
  • 7.3 Comparison of GPS and Ground Survey Elevations
  • 7.4 GPS Heighting versus LiDAR DEMs
  • 8. Analysis of Different DEMs against LiDAR Reference DEM
  • 8.1 Discrepancies in Elevation
  • 8.2 SRTM DEM
  • 8.3 SPOT5 DEM
  • 8.4 Topo DEM (from 1:25,000 map data)
  • 8.5 Airborne IfSAR DEM
  • 8.6 ADS40 DEM
  • 9. Impact of Land Cover on DEM Accuracy
  • 9.1 Urban Areas
  • 9.2 Open Rural Areas
  • 9.3 Forest/Bushland Areas
  • 9.4 Mixed Coastal Land Cover
  • 10. Influence of Terrain Slope

CRC for Spatial Information info@crcsi.com.au www.crcsi.com.


Report on Performance of DEM Generation Technologies in Coastal Environments

Clive Fraser and Mehdi Ravanbaksh Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information

CRCSI is established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program

Table of Contents Page Executive Summary 1. Introduction 2. Project Overview 3. Overview of DEM Generation Technologies 3.1 Technology Options 3.2 Accuracy Considerations 3.3 LiDAR 3.4 Photogrammetry 3.5 IfSAR 4. Project Work Plan 5. Test Area Locations 6. Specifications for DEM Data Sets 7. Benchmark Elevation Data 7.1 Permanent Survey Marks 7.2 GPS Survey of Height Profiles 7.3 Comparison of GPS and Ground Survey Elevations 7.4 GPS Heighting versus LiDAR DEMs 8. Analysis of Different DEMs Against LiDAR Reference DEM 8.1 Discrepancies in Elevation 8.2 SRTM DEM 8.3 SPOT5 DEM 8.4 Topo DEM (from 1:25,000 map data) 8.5 Airborne IfSAR DEM 8.6 ADS40 DEM 9. Impact of Land Cover on DEM Accuracy 9.1 Urban areas 9.2 Open Rural Areas 9.3 Forest/Bushland Areas 9.4 Mixed Coastal Land Cover 10. Influence of Terrain Slope 11. Conclusions 3 5 5 5 5 6 7 8 8 9 11 15 16 16 16 16 20 23 23 26 28 28 28 31 31 31 35 36 38 39 40


Executive Summary Reliable digital elevation models (DEMs) are vital to better understand and prepare for the impacts of sea level rise and storm surges caused by climate change. A number of satellite and airborne remote sensing technologies can be used to generate digital elevation models, however each technology possesses its own advantages and limitations. The primary aim of this project has been to evaluate the performance of different technologies for the generation of digital elevation models, specifically in coastal environments. The accuracy characteristics of six such technologies have been assessed within four test areas on the mid north coast of New South Wales. These test sites were chosen as being representative of low-lying coastal zones of differing land cover, topography and geomorphology. The DEM technologies investigated were:  Airborne LiDAR (airborne laser scanning)  Airborne IfSAR (interferometric synthetic aperture radar)  SPOT5 HRS satellite imagery  1-second SRTM-based national DEM  Aerial photography: o with the DEM sourced from existing 1:25,000 digital topographic mapping o with the DEM derived from recent ADS40 digital imagery An objective of the project was to look beyond differences in vertical resolution, cost and productivity, and to consider the overall performance of different DEMs in the context of fulfilling anticipated requirements for fit-for-purpose elevation data in Australia’s vulnerable coastal zones. Outcomes of the project can be used to inform the development of future guidelines covering optimal DEM generation technologies for programs such as UDEM and the National Digital Elevation Framework (NEDF). Recent forecasts of sea level rise are in the range of 0.5m to upwards of 1m over the remainder of this century. Digital elevation modelling in support of prediction and monitoring of the inundation impacts of sea level rise and storm surges will therefore require vertical resolution at the sub-metre and even decimetre level. A principal finding of this project has been to reinforce the prevailing view that LiDAR is the optimal DEM generation technology for this application. While DEMs produced photogrammetrically from aerial imagery can match the vertical resolution of LiDAR, namely around 10cm, they are invariably more expensive and exhibit significant shortcomings in bare-earth elevation modelling if automated classification and filtering are solely relied upon. Beyond highlighting the recognized superiorities of LiDAR, this project has identified DEM characteristics that are perhaps not as widely appreciated, but are nevertheless important in the context of producing accurate bare-earth DEMs of coastal terrain. One of these concerns the accuracy gap between LiDAR DEMs and those derived from airborne IfSAR and aerial photography. Comparing LiDAR accuracy (10cm) to IfSAR and ADS40 accuracy (50100cm), one would expect LiDAR DEMs to be at least 5 times better. However the difference are accentuated by shortcomings in the automated classification and filtering of both vegetation and, to a lesser extent, man-made structures, within the process of producing a bare-earth DEM from the latter two technologies. Multiple-return LiDAR on the other hand displays significant advantages by way of last-pulse ground definition, which cannot be


matched in densely vegetated areas by radar and photogrammetry techniques, except through skill-intensive and expensive manual editing processes. The results obtained for DEM performance in open areas, largely free of trees and buildings, highlighted the fact that distinctions in DEM accuracy are as much due to different terrain and land cover, and consequently to filtering, as to differences in the basic metric resolution of DEM technologies. In the case of open pasture, sub-metre accuracy was obtained for the SRTM DEM while the 1:25,000 mapping, the IfSAR DEM and the aerial imagery DEM all displayed sub-half metre accuracy. Although the accuracy of all these lower-resolution DEMs exceeded specifications, they are nevertheless still not likely to fulfill requirements for fit-for-purpose high-resolution elevation models for decision support and risk analysis associated with sea level rise.


The mid-resolution SPOT DEM (derived from approximately 5m resolution stereoscopic SPOT5 HRS satellite imagery). The new national Australian mid-resolution SRTM 1 DEM (derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission IfSAR data). but also of the characteristics of the terrain being mapped. and also their cost-benefit ratios in relation to producing fit-for-purpose elevation models for coastal assessments. 3. Outcomes of the project will provide an increased understanding of the characteristics of different elevation data technologies and how well they perform in Australian coastal environments. particularly to those producing elevation models under the National Digital Elevation Framework (NEDF) and UDEM. Introduction This report summarises the objectives. The quality of DEMs is a function not only of the data acquisition and subsequent data processing.1 Technology Options It was initially envisaged that the research would investigate the accuracy capabilities of four categories of DEMs/DEM generation technologies. Project Overview The objective of this project has been to investigate the performance of different DEM generation technologies within a range of coastal environments. work plan. which formed a research project under the Urban Digital Elevation Modelling in High Priority Regions Program(UDEM). especially in regard to topography and vegetation. with land cover types including urban. DEMs produced from different imaging and ranging sensors need to be analysed in order to better understand their characteristics and accuracy. originally from manual stereo-compilation of analog 5 . the data having been generated over several decades.1. Results will therefore inform the development of guidelines covering optimal DEM generation technologies for vulnerable coastal zones. 2. generated from these four data sources. The focus of the analyses required to evaluate the performance of different Digital Elevation Model (DEM) technologies has been upon detailed assessments of the heighting accuracy produced by six DEM generation technologies within four test areas representing typical low-lying Australian coastal environments. and in cases DSMs (digital surface models). Overview of DEM Generation Technologies 3.000 topographic mapping. Results will also be of benefit to producers of DEMs. and to the presence of cities and urban land cover. High-resolution airborne IfSAR. conduct and outcomes of the project Performance of DEM Generation Technologies in Coastal Environments. rural and forest. namely:     Airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging technology). and specifically automatically produced DEMs from the Leica ADS40 3-line scanning system. DEM data from current 1:25. In addition to comparing DEMs. the work plan was extended to also encompass analysis of DEMs derived from the following sources:   Photogrammetrically derived DEMs from digital aerial imagery.

2011. LiDAR. Prior to describing the methodology and workflow of the project. In the case of tandem-X. since PRISM has double the spatial resolution and 3line scanner geometry. IfSAR derived DEMS from the TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X satellite radar system.   Photogrammetrically derived DEMs from 3-line ALOS PRISM satellite imagery. The bounds shown are indicative only. which lessened the imperative to examine this DEM data source. airborne IfSAR and Topo DEM data was made available by LPMA (NSW Dept. This is generally expressed as a bound. and Geoscience Australia supplied the SPOT5 and SRTM DEMs. 6 . The figure shows representative 1-sigma accuracy bounds (68% confidence level) for each of the six DEM technologies. this range being shown in Figure 1. ADS40. The ALOS satellite unfortunately ceased to operate in late April. More will be said in the following paragraphs about the accuracy specifications for each of the DEM technologies considered in this investigation. and in the case of LiDAR and photogrammetry it can vary according to project design requirements. 3. In the absence of PRISM and TanDEM-X data. The project team was unable to source both ALOS PRISM and TanDEM-X DEM data. which can be local. which is indicated by the dashed line in the figure. Another important aspect related to DEM quality is the presence or absence of height bias. However. it is still possible to infer to some degree the overall performance of these two technologies from the results obtained for the SPOT5 HRS and airborne IfSAR DEMs. of let us say a standard error (1-sigma value) of +/. it is useful to recall the accuracy associated with each DEM technology and salient characteristics of the DEM sources considered. The considerable variation in vertical resolution needs to be kept in mind when comparing the merits of different DEM generation options. of Lands). Through reference to Figure 1 the reader can visualize that whereas a DEM may have high precision. for example as a consequence of incomplete filtering of above-ground features in the DSM-to-DEM conversion process. Also ALOS PRISM DEMs should display higher overall accuracy than those from SPOT5 HRS.5-1m expected accuracy for airborne IfSAR DEMs. but it is initially useful to appreciate the range of accuracy anticipated. it may be inaccurate by the extent of the bias.15cm. in the IfSAR case. or large-area. These are briefly summarized in the following sections. as a consequence of systematic errors in sensor positioning and orientation. TanDEM-X is anticipated to produce vertical accuracies at the 2m level as opposed to the 0. since DEM accuracy is a function of both sensor and topographic/land cover characteristics. the system is still within its initial commissioning phase. with commercial operations not anticipated to commence for several months. This elevation model is referred to throughout this report as the Topo DEM.2 Accuracy Considerations Associated with each DEM technology is an accuracy specification.aerial imagery and subsequently from digitisation of the resulting contour maps. DEM data from six of the above technologies was successfully sourced for the project. respectively. and their purpose is to highlight the order of magnitude and more difference between the representative 15cm vertical accuracy of LiDAR and the 8-9m accuracy of the SPOT5 HRS and SRTM DEMs.

The advantages of LiDAR centre upon its relatively high-accuracy of generally 10-15cm in height and around 1/2000th of the flying height in the horizontal. For this reason. This greatly simplifies the DSM-to-DEM conversion process in vegetated areas. LiDAR stands alone in most practical respects as the most accurate and comprehensive means to produce highest resolution DEMs of coastal environments. Representative 1-sigma vertical accuracy bounds for DEM technologies. This high point density greatly assists in filtering out non-ground artefacts in the conversion from the directly acquired DSM to the final bare-earth DEM. One of the most significant attributes of LiDAR is multiple-return sensing. data acquisition is generally confined to daylight hours since most LiDAR units nowadays come with dedicated digital cameras (usually medium format). Thus. There may also be mid pulse returns. LiDAR has been chosen in 7 .3 LiDAR Airborne laser scanning or LiDAR is today the clear ‘technology of choice’ for the generation of high-resolution DEMs with post spacings of of 1-3m. LiDAR has high productivity of around 300 km2 of coverage per hour. and upon the very high mass point density of nowadays around 4 points/m2. Moreover. Whereas it might not be certain from where in the canopy the first pulse was reflected. day or night. In practice. Whereas aerial photogrammetry techniques can yield DSMs of vertical accuracy equivalent to LiDAR. and it can be operated ‘locally’. LIDAR has the ability to ‘see through’ all but thick vegetation. 3. As a consequence. it is generally not economical to opt for photogrammetry over LiDAR for DEM generation at vertical resolutions of 10-20cm.Figure 1. the resulting imagery being used both to assist in the artefact removal process and for orthoimage production. where the first return of a pulse indicates the highest point encountered and the last the lowest point. in the context of UDEM. it can be safely assumed that a good number of the last returns will be from bare earth.

The resulting Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR) system determines the relative heights of imaged ground points as a 8 . In order to quantify the accuracy of LiDAR against ground-truth. it is noteworthy that the final stage. Traditionally elevation data was extracted from stereo aerial photography in the form of contours. except in special circumstances such as very high accuracy DSMs for 3D city modelling. followed up with initial stage automated DSM-to-DEM conversion. which was obtained from 1:25. DSM generation was automated with the advent of analytical stereoplotters and then further process automation accompanied the introduction of digital aerial imagery. DEM data generated from 50 cm GSD imagery recorded by LPMA’s Leica ADS40 line scanning camera to a nominal vertical resolution of 0. 3.5 IfSAR Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) has been employed for a few decades as an imaging technology in remote sensing. DSM and subsequently DEMs to around 30cm vertical and 2-3m horizontal resolution can be generated with a high degree of automation through such a process. However.000 topographic map data. The generation of a DSM from digital aerial or satellite imagery is today a fully automatic batch process. one approach employs the Vexcel Ultracam digital camera flown in a block configuration of 80% forward overlap and 60% side overlap at an imaging scale that yields a 15cm ground sample distance (GSD).4 Photogrammetry As a tool for topographic mapping. which will support DSM extraction to around 1-2m vertical accuracy. which uses the SPOT 5 HRS system. the dedicated DEM generation program of SPOT Image. 3. For the present project. along with data from permanent survey marks. photorealistic models of major cities. and to some extent in urban areas. photogrammetry has a long history. and thus the ADS40 data should be thought of as constituting a bare-earth DEM over open terrain. with the resulting elevation model often being employed to support orthoimage generation. as exemplified in this project by the Topo DEM. spatially separated from the first.5m resolution ALOS PRISM satellite having a 3-line scanner geometry similar to that in the ADS40 aerial camera. Through an augmentation of a conventional airborne or spaceborne SAR system with a second receiving antenna. Satellite imaging systems have gained popularity for DSM generation at vertical resolutions within the range of 1m to 10m. DEMs produced from ALOS PRISM can be expected to display height accuracies of around 3-5m. The latter is exemplified to some extent by current programs to create high definition. manually intensive classification and filtering was not carried out. elevation data from a kinematic GPS survey of several thousand points has been used. it has been possible to utilise the principles of interferometry to extend SAR from a 2D imaging system to a 3D topographic modelling technology. For example.5-1m has been adopted as representative of the capabilities of fully automated DSM production from digital aerial imagery.this project as the ‘standard’ against which the other DEM generation technologies are compared. yields DEMs with a nominal 5-10m height accuracy (1-sigma) and 2030m horizontal resolution. Also. with the 2. For example. All satellite imaging systems used for 3D terrain modelling use line scanner technology. the GeoEye-1 and World View-1 and -2 satellites have a 50cm GSD. but only as a smoothed DSM for land cover comprising dense vegetation. Broad area DEM generation via photogrammetry is presently not the preferred approach.

use of stereo radar imagery as a complement to the process allows for semi-automated DSM-to-DEM conversion. data collection in not impeded by clouds.5–1m for airborne IfSAR and the ADS40 DEM. it is useful to keep in mind that the DEMs being compared have accuracy ranges that differ by more than an order of magnitude. With the orbits of the two satellites being tightly controlled. and a post spacing of 5m.1m vertical accuracy. Recall that nominal vertical resolutions of the DEMS are: approximately 5-15m for SRTM and SPOT5 HRS. 0. full commercial operation of TanDEM-X had not commenced. and 15cm for LiDAR. Thus. Automated classification and filtering was based upon analysis of the multiple-pulse returns. From the standpoint of a DEM generation system that can economically provide 2m accuracy elevation models of Australia to horizontal resolutions of 10m. Airborne IfSAR can record data at the very rapid rate of around 100-200 km2 per minute. A second source of radar DEMs is single-pass spaceborne IfSAR. appeared in the mid 1990s and global focus was brought onto the capabilities of IfSAR to produce DEMs with the successful completion of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) in 2000. Beyond the heavily built-up areas of major cities and very rough mountainous areas. Project Work Plan Shown in Figure 2 is the workflow designed for the DEM analysis. Under the TanDEM-X program of Germany’s DLR and the Infoterra company. The intended elevation model product from TanDEM-X is a global DTED3 DEM of 12m post spacing and 2m vertical accuracy. the Australian terrain can be characterized as being ideal for DEM generation via airborne radar. Also shown in Figure 2 is the work flow adopted for the production of the reference LiDAR DEM from the measured mass points. Moreover. to the point where an updated DTED 2 DEM with a post spacing of 1 second (30m) and a nominal vertical accuracy in the range of 6-12m has recently been released. the Intermap STAR 3i system. which is some 10-20 times the area acquisition rate of LiDAR (the IfSAR swath width is generally 8-20km). there has been a considerable upsurge in 1m-accurate DEM generation via IfSAR. the current TerraSAR-X satellite has been joined in space by a second X-band SAR unit. The first commercial IfSAR system for DEM generation. though initial results from the system are reported as being very encouraging. TanDEM-X has considerable potential. after which interpolation was adopted to generate the final grid of 2m horizontal spacing.function of the phase difference of the coherently combined signals received at the two antennas. rather than to reinforce wellrecognised differences in resolution and accuracy. single-pass IfSAR operation is possible. with national DEMs being commercially available through Intermap’s Nextmap product line. the principal aim of the analysis to be conducted is to better characterize the performance of these different DEM technologies within a typical Australian coastal environment. Given that a main focus of this analysis is upon DEM accuracy. Moreover. 3-5m for the 1:25000 Topo DEM (referred to here as the Topo DEM). Over the past two or three years. This new SRTM DEM data was accessed for the current project from Geoscience Australia. 4. There have been a number of refinements made to the SRTM DEM of Australia over the past few years. as is vegetation removal using new techniques for polarmetric radar interferometry. As at late May 2011. 9 .5 . Intermap Technologies have recently completed a large project within the Murray Darling Basin with their STAR system and produced DSMs with a stated 0.

localized distortions in AHD will have no significant impact in the accuracy analysis for two reasons. which is taken to be LiDAR data. Secondly. the anticipated localized MSL versus AHD biases can be anticipated to be very small in relation to the overall error budget for all DEM data other than the LiDAR reference data. A height conversion from ellipsoidal to orthometric is then carried out using both geoid height information from AusGEOID09 and. involves bringing all DEM datasets into a uniform reference coordinate system. Figure 2. All current DEM data acquisition technologies utilize GPS for absolute positioning and consequently the DEM datum is initially referenced to the WGS84 ellipsoid. In order to compare height values from different DEMs at specific positions. the local relationship between AusGEOID09 and the Australian Height Datum (AHD) to facilitate a transformation of the DEM to AHD. In the conversion of height data recorded in the kinematic GPS survey conducted as part of the project. Firstly. which nullifies the effect of absolute biases in the datum.As can be seen from Figure 2. AusGEOID09 was employed to facilitate a one-step WGS84-to-AHD reference datum conversion. at least when all DEMs are nominally referenced to AHD. Within the current project the principle adopted is that the interpolation should occur in the higher 10 . Especially important is uniformity within the height datum. the initial step in the accuracy assessment and analysis of differently sourced DEMs of varying resolution against the reference dataset. where applicable and if known. However. Project workflow. height differences are being determined. interpolation is needed because of the multiple horizontal resolutions (post spacings) involved. It is noteworthy that there can be discrepancies in actual ‘local’ MSL and AHD amounting to 70cm or more as a consequence of sea-surface topography.

since the choice was essentially limited to the mid north coast of NSW. secondly. The reasons for this are. this factor has only been briefly analysed here. and 2) availability of elevation model coverage from as many data acquisition sources as possible. ranging from floodplains. 4) Containing extensive areas below 10m elevation and open to the coastline. from urban to rural to bushland and forests.resolution DEM. It is important to keep in mind that the characteristics of both the underlying terrain and the particular sensor technology will dictate the degree of complexity of the DSM-to-DEM process. IfSAR DSMs can be accompanied by intensity images that support stereo visual interpretation to aid in the DSM-to-DEM conversion. on the accuracy and integrity of bare-earth DEMs. this interpolation being bilinear as opposed to bicubic. with only mild topographic variation. 1:25000 topographic mapping and SPOT5 HRS.and medium level hills. for example. which in combination fulfilled the following requirements: 1) Coastal zone with mixed vegetation. Issues include. and different land and vegetation cover. A principal aim of the project was to assess the influence of both man-made structures in an urban environment. especially as a function of ground slope. to undulating low-level coastal sand dunes to low. in order to minimize smoothing effects. Following the selection of the general test area based on data availability. that by its very nature the vulnerable coastal zone is low-lying. 2) Topographic variation. Also. 3) Variation in landcover. whereas removal of above ground features in LiDAR DSMs is greatly aided by both the high density and vertical resolution of the mass points and the provision of multiple returns (ranges) which allow penetration of the vegetation layer. Although there have been a number of published reports on the performance of different DEM generation techniques in different topography. the metadata necessary to comprehensively consider slope and aspect for the IfSAR. Test Area Locations Two criteria governed selection of geographic location for the DEM analysis: 1) suitability in the context of overall assessment of coastal zone vulnerability to climate change. 5. Shown in Figure 3 are the four selected test areas: Area 1 (128 km2) extends from South West Rocks to the Stuarts Point/Grassy Head area and comprises varied coastal topography and 11 . where there had been recent production of medium. height comparisons require interpolation within the 2m horizontal resolution LiDAR DEM. ADS40 and LiDAR were not available. A result of this approach is that the number of sample points will vary proportionally to the horizontal resolution of the DEM being compared to the LiDAR reference data. firstly. The analysis was thus limited to gridded DEM data only. Thus. LiDAR and photogrammetry (from ADS40 aerial imagery). different levels of initial artefact removal and filtering have been applied in the DSM-to-DEM conversion. there was coverage from SRTM. with automated processes alone being largely relied upon. Fulfilment of the latter criterion turned out to be the factor that most influenced the selection of test area locations. it was necessary to select specific test sites. the fact that photogrammetry techniques beneficially support manual artefact removal in a visual 3D environment. ranging from grassland to scrubland and forest.and high-resolution DEMs from airborne IfSAR. Moreover. In accordance with the different height resolutions of the DEMs being considered. and.

which is centred on the town of Kempsey. Area 2 (76 km2). Area 4 (72 km2 ) was added to the initial three in order to provide further coverage of dense coastal forest areas. and Figure 5 highlights the areas below 10m elevation within each of the four test sites. The DEMs within each of the test areas are shown in Figure 4.vegetation cover. 12 . namely the settlement of Scotts Head. Area 4 Area 1 Area 2 10 km Area 3 Figure 3: Test areas. constitutes the sample low-lying urban area. as well as an additional urban area. with locations shown for 9 permanent survey marks used as GPS checkpoints. Area 3 (24 km2) covers Crescent Head and this was selected based on the varying terrain of the headland.

(d) Area 4 13 .(a) Area 1 (b) Area 2 (c) Area 3 Figure 4: LiDAR DEMs for each test area.

(a) Area 1 (b) Area 2 (c) Area 3 (d) Area 4 Figure 5: Areas below 10m elevation (black areas are >10m or outside area). 14 .

15m Topo DEM Ground check points 6m 0.1 Permanent Survey Marks The reference elevation model against which DEMs from different data sources are compared is taken as the LiDAR DEM.5m 0. which were made available by Geoscience Australia (GA) . Benchmark Elevation Data 7. It had originally been intended to employ additional benchmarks as ground checkpoints.ADF) ERDAS 8 m grid (. Table 1. 1:25000 mapping Kinematic GPS ADS40 DSM Airborne IfSAR DEM SRTM DEM 0. In order to assess the quality of the LiDAR ‘standard’ against ground survey data that is directly referenced to AHD to a nominal accuracy of better than 10cm.6. which was crucial to realization of the project objectives.03m 3m 0.BIL) ESRI binary 30m grid (.IMG) ASCII Horizontal accuracy (RMSExy) 10m Vertical accuracy (RMSEz) 5-10m SPOT5 DEM Space photogrammetry Aerial photogrammetry (50 cm GSD) Intermap STAR 3 & 4 IfSAR Space-borne IfSAR Airborne Laser Scanning Aerial photogrammetry. This number would be sufficient to indicate the presence of any localized biases in the AHD reference system that were not modeled via the AusGEOID09 Geoid model.ADF) 2m grid (.IMG) 5 m grid (. all DEM data was kindly provided to the project by the Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA) of the NSW Department of Lands. Specifications of DEM Datasets Shown in Table 1 is a summary of the specification for the different DEM datasets employed in the project. Dataset Technology Data format ESRI binary 30m grid (.5m 0.3m 0.1m 7m 6-12m LiDAR mass points 0.LAS) ERDAS 25m Grid (. were used in a comparison of GPS-derived AHD heights versus those of the permanent survey marks.5-1m 1.5 . however time constraints and difficulties imposed in locating the permanent survey marks beyond township areas meant that the number of checkpoints was restricted to nine. 15 . Specifications of DEM Datasets and GPS survey data. With the exception of the 1-second SRTM and SPOT5 data. surveyed benchmark data within the test area was accessed. the locations of which are indicated in Figure 3.03m 7. The project is indebted to LPMA and GA for this support. The elevations of nine benchmarks.

there are practical limitations to utilization of thinly distributed benchmark and permanent survey mark data as an accurate base against which to assess LiDAR DEMs. and the effective maximum distance for radio reception was about 4km depending upon topography. but there is also the inherent accuracy limitation. again several cm. Notwithstanding these shortcomings. Kempsey and Crescent Head. namely WGS84. The surveyed height profiles were mainly restricted to areas in or near townships. For the present project. comparisons were to be made with the elevation data recorded within the vehicle-borne Real-Time Kinematic GPS (RTKGPS) Survey. which shows favourable and unfavourable areas for data collection within the Stuarts Point area.3 Comparison of GPS and Ground Survey Elevations In order to ascertain the absolute accuracy of the LiDAR DEM data. 7. since the only available basis for comparison is elevation data acquired from ground surveys. with only the low-lying test area around Kempsey (Area 2) being largely free of forest cover. beyond townships. the mode of operation was to utilize a base station that broadcast corrections to the vehicle-borne roving receiver via a radio link.7.000 elevation readings at generally 3-5m intervals were made to 2-4cm accuracy over the roads indicated in the figures. One benefit of being restricted to open roadways was that heights to the same points would have been readily recorded within the LiDAR survey. Secondly. For the conversion of both LiDAR and GPS surveyed heights to elevations referenced to AHD. South West Rocks. for two reasons. it was necessary to validate the absolute accuracy of the LiDAR DEM. within an ellipsoidal height reference system. An illustration of the problems posed by vegetation in the RTKGPS surveys is provided in Figure 12. Firstly.2 GPS Survey of Height Profiles Prior to the adoption of airborne LiDAR as the highest accuracy ‘master’ elevation data set against which other DEM generation technologies are compared. Stuarts Point. Both technologies yield elevations. in this case via the AUSGeoid09 correction model. it is necessary to apply a geoid correction. in the first instance. which have traditionally been established via spirit leveling. of the ground surveyed elevations. 16 . This is by no means a simple matter in practise. GPS surveyed AHD heights can then be directly compared to elevations of benchmarks (BMs) and permanent survey marks (PMs). discrepancies between the RTKGPS heights and those determined from LiDAR yield an indication of the accuracy of the LiDAR system free of the effects of uncertainty in the relationship between the ellipsoidal and the orthometric height datums. either via GPS or standard surveying techniques of spirit or trigonometric levelling. This accounts for most of the ‘broken’ height profiles shown in Figures 6-11. Not only are there uncertainties of several cm in the height relationship between the ellipsoidal WGS84 and AHD reference systems. some 27. roads tended to be ‘covered’ by overhanging trees. The only feasible approach for assessing the absolute accuracy of LiDAR DEM data covering the UDEM test areas is through the provision of GPS surveyed bare-earth elevations. The vegetation cover is indicative of most of the native forest areas within the region. which blocked reception of the GPS signals. The most practical way of acquiring such data is through the use of real-time kinematic GPS (RTKGPS) surveying where a GPS receiver is mounted in a vehicle and 3D positions to an accuracy of a few cm are determined through the use of either a nearby radio-linked base station or a CORS network. As will be explained in a following section. In this sense. RTKGPS surveys were conducted in five areas: Scotts Head.

Elevation profiles recorded by kinematic GPS in Scotts Head (Area 4).Scotts Head Stuarts Point SW Rocks Kempsey Crescent Head Figure 6. Elevation profiles recorded by real-time kinematic GPS in the four test areas. 17 . Figure 7.

Figure 10. Elevation profiles recorded by kinematic GPS in Kempsey (Area 2). Elevation profiles recorded by kinematic GPS in South West Rocks (Area 1).Figure 8. Elevation profiles recorded by kinematic GPS in Stuarts Point (Area 4). Figure 9. 18 .

1m over the 50km from Crescent Head to Scotts Head. it is more appropriate to use RTK GPS heights rather than benchmark data. Elevation profiles recorded by kinematic GPS in Crescent Head (Area 3). from 30.Figure 11. In the case of the test areas considered. secondly. systematic errors in the BM/PM data. and by 0.4cm and it is noteworthy that there is a systematic trend in the discrepancy values at two of the locations. Figure 12. The overall RMS value of height discrepancies is 9. A principal cause of discrepancies between GPS surveyed AHD heights and those for BMs/PMs can be anticipated to be localized biases in Geoid modeling. coupled with the anticipated accuracy (95% confidence) level of only 5-8cm for ground surveyed BM/PM elevations suggests that RMS discrepancies in the order of 10cm might well be expected between GPS and ground surveyed elevations. the results suggest that in order to independently ascertain the accuracy of the LiDAR data.7m to 31. These are indicative of either one or two factors: firstly. Scotts Head and Crescent Head areas. Table 2 lists the results of the GPS to BM/PM height data comparison for nine survey marks in the Kempsey.4m over the 20km from Crescent Head to Kempsey. 19 . Constraints on kinematic GPS surveying: unfavourable vegetation conditions (left) and generally favourable conditions (right). the geoid correction value N varies by 1. localized biases in AUSGeoid09 or.8m. This fact. Either way.

63 1.66 34. The resulting discrepancies in elevation are summarized in Tables 3 and 4.18 8. where the heighting bias of LiDAR (-ve value indicates higher LiDAR elevation).12 -0.91 3.92 41. and the fact that both data sets were transformed from ellipsoidal to orthometric heights via the AusGeoid09 geoid model. In order to validate.88 8.54 91.01 0. Table 2.76 30. as compared to the other DEM generation technologies. some 27.04 0.61 29.70 -0.65 13.07 Scotts Head GPS10 GPS12 GPS13 PM56083 PM93242 PM72384 36.63 45.84 13.07 3.07 29. namely 10-15cm.10 6.06 31. Comparison between GPS surveyed and published elevations for nine benchmarks/permanent survey marks (units are metres).12 31. Subsequent comparisons of the LiDAR DEM heights to ground surveyed data will utilize only RTKGPS data.64 91.40 31.78 31.63 90.77 -0.03 9.For the purposes of this study it suffices to note that the level of agreement between BM and PM data and RTKGPS is of a similar magnitude to the 1-sigma elevation accuracy anticipated from airborne LiDAR data. the absolute accuracy of the LiDAR derived elevations.75 30.04 GPS11 GPS14 GPS17 Crescent Head PM12869 PM12867 PM12884 41.08 23.83 -0.01 0. the RMS discrepancy. as far as was practical.39 61.89 8.46 -0.77 -0.39 120.86 -0.73 6.18                   7. Within this process.12 -0.79 31.95 3.74 10.61 10.000 individual RTKGPS height measurements were compared to elevations interpolated from the gridded LiDAR DEM via bilinear interpolation. a comparison with the profiles of RTKGPS data described above was conducted.04 -0.77 13.28 0.80 10. the bias-free standard deviation of the discrepancies H and the size of the sample within each of the four test areas is listed. whereas Table 4 lists the corresponding results when height discrepancy values of greater than three times the standard deviation (ie 99% confidence level) of H values are omitted.10 -0.09 1.19 0.35 23.04 -0.78 30.4 GPS Heighting versus LiDAR DEMs The LiDAR DEM has been adopted as the reference DEM in view of its significantly higher accuracy.02 9. In assessing the heighting discrepancies between the RTKGPS and corresponding points from the LiDAR DEM. GPS Point PM Ellipsoidal Height from GPS Geoid Separation Orthometric height ΔH from Levelling Height of PM from GPS True height of PM Error in Height (m) Kempsey GPS06 GPS10 GPS16 PM25886 PM25983 PM26032 54.77 4.24 39.36 31. and generally also resolution.65 11. elevation differences will primarily be a function of: 20 . Table 3 shows results when all RTKGPS points are included.11 29.93 23. it should be kept in mind that given the 2-3cm accuracy of the laser ranging component.

13 -0. and red greater than 3-sigma.11 0. Areas 1 and 2.12 % of points removed (ΔH >3 1% 1% 11% 8% Test Area 1. Mean elevation discrepancy (heighting bias) 0. Scotts Hd No.12 Std. 21 . and  errors in the filtering of the LiDAR data.06 0.09 RMS elevation discrepancy 0.05 0. airborne and terrestrial.02 -0.14 -0. the sigma values being those listed in Table 4.10 0.16 0. Comparison between RTK GPS surveyed elevations and those from the LiDAR DEM. of points 4880 10188 5740 6311 Table 4.22 Test Area 1. Kempsey 3. only 1% of discrepancy values fell outside 3-sigma error bounds. discrepancies in the GPS surveying of platform positions.04 RMS elevation discrepancy 0. green between 2and 3-sigma. all GPS points included (Units are metres). However. for the Stuarts Point and Kempsey test fields. with the height discrepancy at each point being indicated by a coloured dot. and in Area 4 because of a high RMS discrepancy value.06 0. there were instances were roadside vegetation appeared to influence localized filtering results. since the filtering issue is minimized. Crescent Hd 4.07 0. Table 3. deviation of ΔH 0. deviation of ΔH 0. the results listed in Tables 3 and 4 are quite encouraging for two of the test areas. blue between 1. the level of compatibility is less than expected within the remaining two areas.10 0. Stuarts Pt 2.04 0. Comparison between RTK GPS surveyed elevations and those from the LiDAR DEM. GPS points where ΔH is greater than 3 times the standard deviation are omitted (Units are metres). In many respects the comparison of elevations along roadways would be expected to yield optimal results. White indicates within 1standard deviation of ΔH (ie within 1-sigma). Kempsey 3. in Area 3 because of a higher than expected positive height bias for the LiDAR. of points 4842 10130 5097 5831 In the context of validating the LiDAR DEM via RTKGPS data. This issue will be addressed following a general summary of the results of the RTKGPS versus LiDAR comparison. though preliminary analysis suggests that it may in fact be due to a combination of both errors in the LiDAR DEM and lower than expected accuracy within the RTKGPS data. However. The corresponding figures for rejected points (ΔH >3 in Areas 3 and 4 are much higher at 11% and 8%. Mean elevation discrepancy (heighting bias) 0. in the case of the test areas considered.12 0.and 2-sigma. Stuarts Pt 2. Shown in Figure 13 are plots of the positions of RTKGPS points. where neither the bias value nor the standard deviation of height discrepancies is significant given the 1-sigma accuracy of the LiDAR of around 15cm. respectively. Scotts Hd No.14 0.07 0.04 0. It is difficult to definitively establish the reasons for the larger mean LiDAR heighting bias in Crescent Head.24 Std.02 -0. ie in the removal of above bare-ground features. which is consistent with a normal distribution.12 0. It is also noteworthy in Table 4 that. Crescent Hd 4.

and red. 2-3 sigma. green. some 4-5m above the underlying DEM. The elevation cross section through the LiDAR DEM. >3 sigma. Note how the discrepancies increase for a double-run RTKGPS survey exactly at the transition between an open urban area and a heavily forested area. On the other hand. is also shown. However. A further example of where the height discrepancies are more likely attributable to shortcomings in LiDAR classification and filtering is shown in Figure 14. and here one could infer that the heighting error is more likely to have arisen within the LiDAR processing. Sample discrepancies in LiDAR DEM versus RTKGPS elevation data. It can be difficult to accurately attribute errors in the determination of absolute elevation to the LiDAR DEM versus the RTKGPS data. blue. there is the consolation in this investigation that height discrepancies are of a sufficiently small magnitude where they are consistent overall with the 1-sigma vertical accuracy specification of around 15cm for the LiDAR DEM. the lower image of Figure 13 shows systematic error in a double run along the edge of what is essentially a cliff face. Crescent Head. White indicates within 1-sigma. 1-2 sigma.Note in the upper two of the three images how GPS errors are suggested by distinctly different ΔH values being obtained in overlapping runs of the vehicle borne GPS survey. A final example. which needs no explanation. at the position indicated by the yellow line. the LiDAR DEM can be safely taken as the benchmark against 22 . This shows the ‘error’ arising when the vehicle borne GPS crosses a railway bridge. Figure 13. This is particularly apparent in the right-hand image covering a road roundabout. is indicated by Figure 15. Given that the next highest resolution DEM to be considered has a nominal vertical accuracy of 50cm.

for each different data acquisition technology investigated. as quantified by both the Root Mean Square height discrepancy/Error value (RMSE) and the estimated standard error (h). say. and red greater than 3-sigma. which are deemed most vulnerable to the impact of rising sea level and storm surges. The results represent an initial summary of overall accuracy in these regions. Sample discrepancies in LiDAR DEM versus RTKGPS elevation data. This analysis has indicated that remaining shortcomings in the DSM-toDEM conversion for LiDAR data are most apparent in the classification and filtering of vegetation as opposed to man-made. both being relative to the LiDAR DEM. The areas of comparison have been restricted to those indicated in Figure 5. White indicates within 1-sigma. Thus. h will always be equal 23 . South West Rocks.1 Discrepancies in Elevation Shown in Tables 5 and 6 are results from initial comparisons of DEMs against the LiDAR ‘standard’. 8. the RTKGPS versus LiDAR DEM analysis has highlighted practical issues that still hinder the acquisition of DEMs with vertical accuracies of better than. The distinction between these two measures is that the RMSE includes the error arising from systematic height biases.which to assess the remaining DEM generation technologies. Analysis of Different DEMs against LiDAR Reference DEM 8. Figure 15. Discrepancies in LiDAR DEM versus RTKGPS elevation data at bridge crossing. Figure 14. 10cm. whereas the h is free of the overall mean bias. ie to areas with an elevation of 10m or less. White indicates within 1-sigma. and blue 1-2 sigma. Kempsey. Notwithstanding the acceptance of this benchmark status. Also shown is the cross section height profile corresponding to the yellow line. above-ground structures such as buildings.

6 3. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM.5 1. The cut-off height discrepancy values in Table 5 were set at 15m for SRTM and SPOT5 data. These values correspond roughly to multiples of three to five times the respective standard deviations.01 0.8 7.8 0.6 h (m) 3.9 The distinction between Tables 5 and 6 lies in the adopted threshold for classification of particular height discrepancy values as outliers. or gross errors. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area 2.1 4.6 1. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area 4.2 2.2 2.0 1.4 0.0 2.4 4.06 0.8 5.9 2.3 5.5 6.1 0.9 1.6 39. The outlier thresholds (cut-off values) in Table 6 impose a tighter tolerance on data acceptance than those of Table 5. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area 2. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area 2.3 4.0 0.8 0.02 0.5 Sample Size 85740 51625 13075 20927 79077 51443 12359 18962 123454 74354 18906 30377 3038739 1855859 473092 701487 852493 695044 116038 179993 % removed 0.3 3.1 1. Threshold=10m) IfSAR DEM (Area 1.5 1. These are removed from the computation of the RMSE and standard deviation values.2 1.7 1. 10m for the Topo DEM and 5m for both the IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area 1. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area 4. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 3.8 1.5 4. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 1.7 8.6 2. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area 3.8 1.3 0. Some 40% of ADS40 data points in Area 4 were classed as 24 .9 0.4 37.4 2.6 RMSE (m) 3.0 0.4 2.3 0.1 0.4 5.3 0. with the two estimates being equal when there is no mean height bias. as per the %-removed column. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area 4.03 0 0.7 29.3 3.4 1.8 0.8 3.9 2.1 0.1 4. and the different threshold values afford an indication of the extent of noise within each DEM data set.5 10.1 3. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area 2.2 4.3 0.4 0. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area 3. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area 3.8 1.6 1. Threshold=15m) Topo DEM (Area 1.4 0. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area 4. The area that was most noise-free. Threshold=5m) Height bias (m) 0. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area 3. as expected.2 2. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 2. Table 5.3 4.0 2.8 2.9 1.5 -0.0 2. Dataset SRTM DEM (Area 1.9 2.5 1.4 0.7 5.to or smaller than the RMSE. was Area 2 and the ADS40 DEM constituted the noisiest data.9 0. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 4.7 1.

8 1.1 1.5 2.8 1. Threshold=10m) SRTM DEM (Area 3. Threshold=5m) Topo DEM (Area 2.3 2.0 2.4 A feature to note is that due to the restriction of the analysis to elevations of less than 10m.2 1.5 46. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM.3 2. Threshold=3m) IfSAR DEM (Area 4. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area 1.2 1.7 0.9 4.6 11. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area 4. as per the %-removed column.2 2.1 0.1 0.1 1.7 0. which is no doubt attributable to incomplete classification and filtering within forested areas.1 0. Threshold=5m) Topo DEM (Area 3.0 h (m) 3. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 1.3 3.3 0. DEM performance in urban areas will be addressed in a later section of this report.2 0.9 1. Crescent Head and Scotts Head.7 2.1 2. Threshold=10m) SRTM DEM (Area 2.0 2. reveal a number of characteristics. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area 1.0 44.9 1.7 1.1 1.7 1. Dataset SRTM DEM (Area 1. as well as significant parts Southwest Rocks. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area 2.3 1.7 6.8 5. Threshold=3m) IfSAR DEM (Area 2.8 2.6 5.8 10.1 2.8 1. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 3.1 6.5 4. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area 1. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 2.2 2. all lie at elevations above 10m.6 0.4 0.8 0.6 4.1 0.7 3.1 2.3 0.2 40.outliers.1 3. Threshold=5m) Topo DEM (Area 4.5 4.0 Sample Size 84665 51508 12735 19908 75763 50700 11655 17325 119997 62730 17461 28473 2889079 1828944 458564 651056 723999 683764 103057 160370 % removed 1.9 17. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area 3.4 -0.0 0.6 1.6 1.4 0.7 3.3 RMSE (m) 3. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area 4. since most of the town of Kempsey. coupled with the plots in Figures 16-20 showing height discrepancies above given thresholds.2 2. In the latter category. there is limited initial consideration of DEM performance within urban environments.9 1.5 6.1 0. Threshold=3m) IfSAR DEM (Area 3.0 4. Table 6.3 4.3 0.3 1.8 15. Threshold=3m) Height bias (m) 0. Threshold=10m) SRTM DEM (Area 4. some unique to particular DEM data acquisition technologies and others common to all.7 15. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed.7 1.6 0.2 4.2 3. findings could be briefly summarizes as follows: 25 .8 2. The results in Tables 5 and 6.7 7.

5sigma threshold the number of rejected points falls below 1%. The corresponding 1-sigma values are 2. This enhances the prospect for a better fit to the bare-earth LiDAR DEM.3% in the best (Area 2). whereas the standard error of the SPOT5 DEM displayed lower than expected standard error values of 2 .   Based on results obtained in the foregoing analysis. which can be seen for Areas 1. and along two watercourses. Heighting blunders exceeding 15m are confined to a small number of local vegetation clusters in Area 4. namely around 3m. 3 and 4 than for Area 2. As anticipated. the following general summaries of DEM accuracy can be offered: 8. The accuracy associated with each DEM technology. tend to be concentrated in a small number of areas.6m.5m. which is equal to or slightly below expectations. mainly forested locations.9m and 0. since the positive bias effect of the DEM being in reality more of a canopy DSM in forest areas is absent.5m. where extensive manual filtering has been carried out. A further encouraging feature of the SRTM DEM. the achieved RMSE. Also as anticipated. It is also noteworthy that there is a concentration of outlier points both within vegetated valley areas. standard error (1-sigma) and mean height bias values are very impressive. The main conclusion regarding the GA-supplied 1-second 26 .3m. There should be an expectation that automated DSM-to-DEM conversion will yield better results for IfSAR versus photogrammetrically derived DEMs generated through image matching because of the ability of radar to penetrate vegetation.3m.6% in the worst case (Area 4) and 0. IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs. Instead of finding an RMSE in the range of 6-12m. persistent height bias of close to 5m. the values instead range from 2. In the case of the Topo DEM.7m to 1. the systematic errors in DEM heights. the distribution of RMSE values and standard errors for each case are correlated to the presence or absence of forest. In the case of the SRTM data the RMSE values of around 2 . respectively. At a 15m or approx. at least to a moderate extent. whereas the IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs displayed an accuracy level in the range of 0.2m for Area 2 to 4. The accuracy of the Topo DEM was close to specifications. but a disturbing. with corresponding uniform RMSE values of 4. The number of points with height discrepancies exceeding 10m (roughly 3-sigma) reaches 5. In the case of the SPOT5 DEM there is a relatively uniform bias of 4-5m across all three areas. which increase with increasing elevation.5-5. although influenced by the presence of forest. with the majority of the area being free from ‘rejected’ points.2 SRTM DEM When assessed against the basic accuracy specifications for the 1-second SRTM DEM. is that the distribution of height discrepancies exceeding the 10m threshold is characterized by concentrations in a few.4m were significantly lower than anticipated.1m and 3. It is noteworthy that the mean biases for the SRTM and airborne IfSAR DEMs are 0. as opposed to being distributed widely throughout forested regions. 3 and 4 in Figure 16. but not for the SPOT5 and Topo DEMs. It can be seen that the bias and RMSE values follow this trend for the SRTM. The lack of forest cover in the extensive open floodplain area around Kempsey accounts to a large degree for this characteristic. both heighting biases and height RMSE values are generally larger for Areas 1. as summarized in Tables 5 and 6. as assessed via the RMSE and h values was basically consistent with or better than suggested by specifications.3m for the heavily forested Area 4.

SRTM DEM is that within the coastal areas considered it is more accurate than specifications would suggest. 27 . and it is free of significant height biases when assessed against RMSE values. Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area4 Figure 16: Points within the SRTM DEM with height discrepancies greater than threshold values when compared to the LiDAR reference DEM. Red areas representing a 10m threshold are overlaid by blue areas representing a 15m cutoff (areas not to scale).

The corresponding 1-sigma values were basically the same as a consequence of the modest bias values of 0. which had a range of 1. perhaps as a consequence of insufficient or inaccurate ground control within the block adjustment process. were 0. 6% in Area 3. it might be attributable to shortcomings in the filtering of vegetation within the DSM-to-DEM conversion.7 to 6. The rejections grow to greater than 10% in Areas 1 and 3. which results in RMSE values ranging from 4. It is encouraging to see that with a point rejection threshold of 15m.4% in Area 2. 0. mainly forested areas.4m in Area 1. with localized occurrences of height biases as opposed to the area wide bias seen in the SPOT5 DEM. the attained accuracy of the IfSAR DEM was not well within specifications.4m in Area 4. 8. The higher %removal values shown for a 5m cutoff in Table 6 can be discounted somewhat because the threshold is set too tight at only 2-sigma. however. The latter assumption is supported to some degree by the percentages of the rejected points where the height error exceeded a 15m threshold. Of concern. corresponding to a third of the contour interval of 10m. and a predictably lower 0. The rejected points are concentrated mainly in areas of dense coastal forest. 10% in Area 4. Alternatively. it is could arise in large part in this case from errors in the exterior orientation of the stereo satellite imagery.5m or less.2. DEMs generated from SPOT5 HRS imagery could be expected to show a standard error in elevation within the range of 5-10m. For example. The number of points with height discrepancies greater than the 10m cutoff (nominal 3-sigma value) was 0. 28 . One can only speculate as to the cause of the systematic heighting error. The mean height biases obtained for the Topo DEM.8m in Area 1. even in the absence of vegetation.7m.5 Airborne IfSAR DEM With the relatively coarse rejection threshold value of 5m or approximately 5-sigma assigned to the airborne IfSAR DEM.0m. and just below 2m in Area 2.2% or less for all four areas. with a 10m removal threshold for height discrepancies.8. resulting RMSE values were 1.000 topographic mapping is 3m.1m in Area 3 and 1.9 . is the very significant height bias of over 4 . This is well within specifications. which is largely devoid of forest cover.5m in Area 4. with the distribution of the rejected points being shown in Figure 17. 3 and 4.4 Topo DEM (from 1:25. This is consistent with the expectation that the Topo DEM should have fewer filtering errors and thus fewer %-removals because of the map compilation process being based on manual stereoplotting from aerial photography. as shown in Figure 18. 2m in Area 2. there being over 8% in Area 1. when the threshold is reduced to 10m.5m in Area 3 and 1. they are not viewed as significant given the corresponding 1-sigma values.5m in all four test areas. 1. Initial indications are that whereas the precision of relative heights is within specifications for SPOT5 data.000 map data) The vertical accuracy specification typically associated with 1:25.3 SPOT5 DEM In the absence of height biases. Initial expectations for the Topo DEM would then be an RMSE at the 3m level. the resulting standard errors for the SPOT5 DEM are 3m or just under in Areas 1. While the biases in Areas 2 and 3 are higher than one would anticipate for a 3m-accurate DEM. the DEM exhibits degraded accuracy due to the presence of significant height biases. and to 18% in Area 4. 8.8m in Area 2. Unlike the three lower resolution DEMs discussed above. but it is nevertheless interesting that the points removed are concentrated in localized. 2.

Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area4 Figure 17: Points within the SPOT5 DEM with height discrepancies greater than threshold values when compared to the LiDAR reference DEM. 29 . Red areas representing a 10m threshold are overlaid by blue areas representing a 15m cutoff (areas not to scale).

Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area4 30 .

analyses were carried out for samples of four specific land cover types: urban. Once again. respectively.Figure 18: Points within the Topo DEM (1:25. As can be seen in Figure 19. respectively. 9. Given the incomplete filtering. and (c) a low-lying residential area of West Kempsey (Area 2). The height bias for Area 2 is also reduced to 0. for Areas 2 and 3.3m from closer to 1m for the remaining areas. The accuracy indicators of RMSE and standard error changed marginally when the rejection threshold was lowered from 5m to 3m. Generally speaking.1 Urban Areas Figure 21 shows three sample ‘urban’ areas: (a) a part of the coastal settlement of Scotts Head (taken from Test Area 4). the accuracy was generally consistent with expectations and even a little worse than anticipated. forest/bushland. The first indication of the partial filtering of the ADS40 DSM is indicated in Figure 20. The assumption that the RMSE values were inflated by an incomplete DSM-to-DEM conversion is reinforced by the results of the mostly forest free Area 2. ie an RMSE value of less than 1m. RMSE and standard error of height discrepancies were quantified using the LIDAR data as the reference DEM. and the %-removal value drops from 30% or more to 4%. with vegetation cover appearing as a more significant issue than the presence of buildings and other man-made structures. and to 2% and 4%. 8. The %-removal values climbed to 7% and 15% in Areas 1 and 4. which has the same structure as the earlier Tables 5 and 6. it is apparent that a significant factor limiting vertical accuracy in the generation of supposedly bare-earth DEMs is the automated classification and filtering in forest and urban areas. where it can be seen that the majority of the elevations within forested areas were rejected as outliers.6 ADS40 DEM The ‘DEM’ derived from ADS40 digital 3-line scanner aerial imagery was in fact a ‘smoothed’ DSM that had undergone some initial automated classification and filtering. and significantly more points were removed. elevation bias. open farm land. their associated discrepancy values against the LiDAR data being greater than 5m or roughly 5-sigma. it is difficult to characterize the accuracy of the ADS40 DEM (actually DSM). the results obtained with the IfSAR DEM were in accordance with accuracy expectations. In order to gain further insight into the impact of different land cover on the DEM technologies considered. and to a lesser extent to forested areas. 31 . and mixed coastal cover of vegetated dunes and housing. 9. with the technology performing best in low lying areas. where the RMSE value for the 5m threshold falls from the near 2m level of Areas 1. The results of the analysis for these three test sites are shown in Table 7. Red areas representing a 5m threshold are overlaid by blue areas representing a 10m cutoff (areas not to scale). Impact of Land Cover on DEM Accuracy Based on the results obtained in the analysis of performance of the five DEMs against the LIDAR reference DEM. but it is encouraging to see results in Area 2 which are consistent with accuracy specifications. 3 and 4 to 1m. (b) the commercial centre of South West Rocks (Area 1). Instead. Some 40% of the height discrepancy values in Area 4 were rejected.000 map data) with height discrepancies greater than threshold values when compared to the LiDAR reference DEM. the regions with most rejected points correspond to hilly terrain with steeper slopes.

Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area4 Figure 19: Points within the airborne IfSAR DEM with height discrepancies greater than threshold values when compared to the LiDAR reference DEM. Red areas representing a 3m threshold are overlaid by blue areas representing a 5m cutoff (areas not to scale). 32 .

Red areas representing a 3m threshold are overlaid by blue areas representing a 5m cutoff (areas not to scale).Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area4 Figure 20: Points within the ADS40 DEM with height discrepancies greater than threshold values when compared to the LiDAR reference DEM. 33 .

(a) Scotts Head.                 (a)                       (b) (c) Figure 21: Urban test areas.7 6.1 0 1.4 1. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area b. as per the %-removed column.1 0. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area a.1 7.7 -0. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area c.7 0.8 3 1. (b) South West Rocks and (c) West Kempsey.4 1.9 3.5 0.6 1.5 2. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area c.8 -1 0 -0. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area b.4 1.2 6. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area b.9 Sample Size 273 150 403 273 150 403 243 150 403 10043 5512 14800 3828 2135 5725 % removed 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 0 0.5 1.3 -0. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area a.1 0.9 1. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area c.3 1. Threshold=5m) Height bias (m) 1. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area c.2 1 h (m) 2.5 1.1 1.2 1 1. Threshold=15m) TopoDEM (Area a. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area b.6 3 1. Dataset SRTM DEM (Area a.5 RMSE (m) 2.9 6.6 3. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area c.3 1. Threshold=10m) IfSAR DEM (Area a.9 1.9 0.   Table 7.3 2.5 1.6 7.4 34 . Sample labels correspond with those in Figure 21.4 0.8 -1.5 2.1 0. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed.1 6.9 1. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area b.7 2. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM for three Urban Test Areas.

is enough to significantly inflate the RMSE value compared to that for the bare-ground areas of Figs. it is a gross positive height error likely attributable to a failure to utilize local ground control in the exterior orientation determination for the HRS imagery. The results achieved for the three urban areas for the Topo. IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs show an overall reduction in height bias. while the third is flat. The South West Rocks town centre.The first feature of note in Table 7 is that for the SRTM and SPOT5 DEMs. which is indicative of a more successful filtering of buildings in the automated DSM-to-DEM conversion. at between 6m and 7m. the bias value has increased over that listed in Tables 5 and 6. the RMSE values obtained are largely consistent with those obtained in the full-area evaluations.5m to 3m. The first two areas are gently undulating. The bias value for SPOT5. is not at all consistent with a shortcoming in building classification and filtering.2 Open Rural Areas Figure 22 shows the three selected open rural area sites: (a) open grassland with thinly distributed houses and trees in West Kempsey. (b) open fields near Yarrahappini and (c) ploughed fields south of Stuarts Point. which comprises a relatively small number of houses and trees. In terms of accuracy. In the case of SRTM. for all five 35 .                (a) (c)                   (b) Figure 22: Open rural test areas. 21b and 21c. 9. Instead. Upon compensation for the bias. The results of the analysis for these test sites are shown in Table 8. (b) Yarrahappini and (c) Stuarts Point     Shortcomings in the DSM filtering required in the area shown in Figure 21a. it is safe to assume that this is attributable to an incomplete removal of buildings in the DSM-to-DEM conversion. Figure 21b. where it can be immediately seen that the DEM accuracy improves significantly when the need for extensive filtering is removed from the DSM-to-DEM transformation. (a) West Kempsey. both SRTM and SPOT5 yield standard errors of height discrepancies in the range of 1. is characterized by buildings taller than a single story and it is thus not unexpected to see a more significant bias being present.

3 3. and the corresponding values for the IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs are between 0. the accuracy of SRTM. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area b. Given the largely insignificant height biases and RMSE values that are within specifications.3 Forest/Bushland Areas Figure 23 shows the three selected forest/bushland sites: (a) Dense tall (>10m) eucalypt forest at Yarrahappini. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area a.4m and 0. Figure 23a.4 1. it is not surprising to see so few points classified as outliers.5 3.8m.1 0 0 Given that the cultivated area shown in Figure 21c was likely bushland at the time the Topo DEM was produced.3 0. Threshold=3m) Height bias (m) -1. is better than 1m. Threshold=5m) Topo DEM (Area c. 9. the accuracy of the SPOT5 DEM is no better than 10m in absolute terms. Dataset SRTM DEM (Area a. the SPOT5 DEM.6 -0.DEMs. the probable reason for the bias figure of -2. The table indicates a number of interesting features worthy of note.3 0.9 2. Firstly. including an area of mangroves. The absolute accuracy for all DEMs is within specifications for all three test sites.5 0. Sample labels correspond with those in Figure 22.4 3. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area b.4 0.6 0. Threshold=10m) SRTM DEM (Area c.6 0.4 0.2 -0.7 0. as expressed through the RMSE.6 0. in the heavily forested area.3 0. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area c. The results of the analysis for these test sites are shown in Table 9. Indeed. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed. (b) Tall forest near Grassy Head and (c) scrubland covering a coastal dune at Stuarts Point.8 1 0.6 0.3 0.2 -0.2 3.3m is land clearing and subsequent earthworks to create the cultivated fields.   Table 8. as per the %-removed column. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM for three Open Rural Test Areas.7 4. once again.2 0.5 1. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area c. Threshold=10m) SPOT5 DEM (Area a.6 0. In the open areas.6 0.2 0. it can be seen that some 91% of the sample points are 36 .7 0 0 1.1 -0.8 -2.4 0.3 RMSE (m) 2. Threshold=3m) IfSAR DEM (Area b.9 4. Threshold=10m) SRTM DEM (Area b.1 0 0 1.2 1 1.3 0 0.3 -0.6 0. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area a. Also exhibiting a large positive bias is.6 0.6 0. Threshold=3m) IfSAR DEM (Area c.4 0. with virtually all of these being found in the DEMs covering the scene with houses and trees.6 1.9 0.6 Sample Size 703 374 286 702 374 286 691 374 286 25087 13802 9726 9860 5376 3854 % removed 0 0 0 0.7 h (m) 1. Threshold=3m) ADS40 DSM (Area a.4 0. Threshold=5m) Topo DEM (Area b.

4 0.4 1.8 0.7 1. the cause no doubt being a combination of the already referred to exterior orientation bias and an inadequate removal of vegetation from the DSM.2 2.8 1.5 1.7 4 4.7 h (m) 1. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM for three forest/bushland areas.5 1.7 Sample Size 240 60 395 21 60 395 240 60 395 8910 1888 15017 5 529 5907 % removed 0 0 0 91 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 -2. though this was to be anticipated given the low level of filtering undertaken with this data. Threshold=10m) IfSAR DEM (Area a.6 1.3 1.4 1. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area c. where agreement with the LIDAR DEM is 0.rejected as outliers.5 0. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area c.7 1.2 2.6 3. Threshold=15m) SRTM DEM (Area b. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area c. Contrasting to the poor accuracy of the SPOT5 and ADS40 DEMs is the result for the airborne IfSAR DEM in the same area.                (a)   (b) (c) Figure 23: Forest/Bushland test areas (a) Yarrahappini.2 -0.3 0.2 0.4 4 2. as per the %-removed column.8 3. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area c. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area a.2 4.4 1.2 2 0.4 3.1 4. Sample labels correspond with those in Figure 23.3 9. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area b. Threshold=5m) Height bias (m) 2.3 1.9 2. Threshold=15m) Topo DEM (Area a.7 Another DEM showing a high bias value in thick forest was that from ADS40 imagery. meaning they are in error by more than 10m.5m RMS. and (c) Stuarts Point Beach. Threshold=5m) IfSAR DEM (Area b.9 1.     Table 9. Threshold=10m) Topo DEM (Area b. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed.5 -3. (b) Grassy Head Road. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area a.1 RMSE (m) 2.2 0.5 -0.8 99. Dataset SRTM DEM ( Area a. Threshold=5m) ADS40 DSM (Area b.8 0. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Area c.2 1.9 1. 37 .3 0.9 28 0.7 10.

with a modest bias. Accuracy evaluation result against LiDAR derived reference DEM for coastal area of mixed land cover.4 Mixed Coastal Land Cover The final land cover type sampled could be characterized as mixed coastal dunes. Threshold=5m) -1. Both the ADS40 and IfSAR DEMs have small biases.8 1. Overall. The chosen test area shown in Figure 24 is representative of much of the low-lying coastal environment along Australia’s eastern seaboard that is vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges.       Figure 24: Coastal area of mixed land cover. with its RMSE value being marginally higher than expected. though RMSE values which are outside specifications by approximately 0.1 2. as shown in Fig.2 0.87 38 .39 10.6 2.7 1. The results shown in Table 10 show largely the same characteristics as those presented in Table 5 for the full test areas.2 5. Table 10. 9. Threshold=10m) IfSAR DEM (Sample 1. as per the %-removed column.7 0. The RMSE of the SRTM elevations is a commendable 3m. Given these results it is observed that the particular combination of land cover types does not reveal any distinctive performance characteristics which might not be apparent in the data covering the broader test areas. 24.7m. Neither systematic error is immediately explainable. bush and built-up urban area.5 1.7 1. Arakoon. the results for the forested areas are consistent with expectations. Threshold=15m) SPOT5 DEM (Sample 1.1 2.Also noteworthy in Table 9 are the negative height biases of the SRTM DEM in the coastal scrubland and mangrove environment of Figure 23c and the Topo DEM in the tall bushland of Figure 23b. Only height differences below listed thresholds were included and those above removed.7 244 233 244 8557 3281 0 4. largely due to the now quite familiar large bias of also close to 6m. The Topo DEM also has a larger than expected bias given that the test area is right on the coast.51 0 9.6 2.   Dataset Height bias (m) RMSE (m) h (m) Sample Size % removed Smoothed SRTM DEM (Sample 1. with the achievable accuracy being inversely proportional to vegetation density. namely that the RMSE is higher than specifications for the DEM technologies would suggest. scrubland. Threshold=5m) Smoothed ADS40 DSM (Sample 1.7 2.9 6 3. Threshold=15m) Topo DEM (Sample 1. whereas the SPOT5 elevations show an RMSE of 6m.

Topo. The biases are considerably less for SRTM.10. The accuracy degradation with slope is clearly apparent. Error cut-off thresholds of 15m apply for the SRTM. which contains both the steepest and most forested terrain. airborne IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs. the current project offered a favourable opportunity to examine how different DEM technologies behaved in areas of differing topography. it is interesting to note that the mean errors. Steep terrain adversely impacts especially upon image matching in stereo photogrammetric techniques and upon radar interferometry. Shown in Figure 25a-d are plots of the variation of RMSE values for DEM elevations for slopes from 50 to 500 within the four test areas. whereas a cut-off of 5m applies to the IfSAR and ADS40 data. Influence of Terrain Slope It is well established that the performance of DEM generation technologies is generally degraded as a function of increasing terrain slope. The mean error for SPOT5 derived elevations increases from around 4. SPOT5. are impacted in the cases of SRTM and SPOT5. being most pronounced in Area 1. but a value of 5m is obtained for Area 4. The values shown represent discrepancies between the LiDAR reference elevations and the SRTM.5m in near-flat areas to 7. Plots of RMSE values against LiDAR elevations for different DEM technologies for different terrain slope.5m in areas displaying slopes of between 250 and 500. SPOT5 and Topo DEMs. Another feature of the plots is that in addition to the airborne IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs displaying significantly higher accuracy 39 . (a) Area 1 (b) Area 2 (c) Area 3 (d) Area 4 Figure 25. the impact of slope might not be of prime importance within low-lying coastal topography potentially affected by sea-level rise. Whereas. essentially heighting biases. Whereas the impact of forest is not anticipated to significantly influence the character of the plots.

7 4. are of sufficient accuracy and reliability.9 1.8 5.than the SPOT5.2 4.5 -1.7 2.1 4. 40 .4 3 3.5 1 0.2 7. Overall.9 1.3 0.5 -1.2 4.8 2.2 1.5 3.1 2.9 0.4 5.2 0 2.9 1.3 0. this project has also revealed characteristics of the different DEMs that are perhaps not as widely recognized.9 5.8 RMSE 7 4.9 5.2 4.1 1.8 1.5 1.5 1.8 0.2 2.3 -1.1 5.3 5-15 Height bias 1.1 0.2 0.4 3.3 Conclusions In most respects.7 4.8 -0.5 4.2 2.2 0.3 0.4 0.3 3.2 0.5 5.7 2 1.8 1.4 1.5 0-5 RMSE 3.3 -0.5 5.4 3. Slope category % DEM SRTM (Area 1) SRTM (Area 2) SRTM (Area 3) SRTM (Area 4) SPOT5 (Area 1) SPOT5 (Area 2) SPOT5 (Area 3) SPOT5 (Area 4) Topo (Area 1) Topo (Area 2) Topo (Area 3) Topo (Area 4) IfSAR (Area 1) IfSAR (Area 2) IfSAR (Area 3) IfSAR (Area 4) ADS40 (Area 1) ADS40 (Area 2) ADS40 (Area 3) ADS40 (Area 4) Height bias 0.3 0 -0.8 0.8 1. Table 11.3 1.6 RMSE 5.8 5.4 1.9 1.1 6.8 2.5 0.5 -0. Units are metres.2 4.3 2.2 0.7 4.2 4. eg 15-25cm elevation accuracy for LiDAR versus 0.9 5.1 5 5.6 0.9 0 -0.4 5.2 2. Yet.4 0.2 1.4 0.1 -0.4 1 0.7 1.7 1.4 5. as well as the LiDAR reference data of course.5 1.8 0.7 2. in the context of terrain modelling within low-lying coastal zones.8 2. The accuracy gap between LiDAR DEMs and those from airborne IfSAR and ADS40 aerial photography at 50cm GSD might only be a factor of three to four according to specifications.1 1.7 7.9 4.3 3.6 2.4 6. their performance is less influenced by terrain slope.4 8 7. the results of the analysis of the influence of slope on DEM technologies has served to further emphasise that of the five DEMs considered. only the airborne IfSAR and the ADS40 DEMs.1 5.5 -0. However.3 -0.7 2.9 -1.9 25-50 Height bias 1.6 3.4 1.7 -2.9 1 1.9 -0.8 1.8 1.9 5.5-1m for IfSAR and the ADS40.1 8 7.6 0.9 1. SRTM and Topo DEMs. but are nevertheless important in the context of producing accurate bare-earth DEMs of coastal terrain vulnerable to the impact of climate change.4 2.7 3.6 4.3 4.2 1.9 6.6 3.4 0 4. the findings from the evaluation of the performance of DEM generation technologies are consistent with expectations regarding both accuracy and recognised attributes and limitations of the different DEM data sources considered.7 1.4 0.2 -0.9 0.1 2. though a mild fall off in accuracy with increasing slope is apparent.7 -0.8 15-25 Height bias 1 0.9 1.4 0.2 3.7 4.8 RMSE 4.6 5. RMSE values for IfSAR and the ADS40 DEMS are nevertheless at a higher than desired level of 1-2m. as can be seen from Figure 25 and from Table 11.4 -0.6 0.5 6.1 4.2 0 0.4 6 6.5 5. RMSE values for DEMs assessed against LiDAR DEM at different ground slopes.

highlight the fact that distinctions in DEM accuracy are as much due to different terrain and land cover. largely free of trees and buildings.However. to the point where this DEM has little utility for higher resolution terrain modeling. and are therefore generally positive in sign. The systematic error effects then flowed through to the image matching and object point triangulation phases. Elevation biases are generally attributable to incomplete filtering of vegetation and buildings. this difference is accentuated by shortcomings in the automated classification and filtering of both vegetation and.1m. and consequently to filtering. sub-metre RMSE values were obtained for the SRTM and Topo DEMs. it can be concluded that LiDAR is very much the preferred option for DEM generation in coastal regions vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges. Such land cover accounts for the majority of the populated coastal regions of Australia. the presence of residual height errors over dense vegetation cover and low-level man-made features can be anticipated to some extent. 41 . The results listed in Table 8 for DEM performance in open areas. and the IfSAR and ADS40 DEMs showed sub-half metre RMSE values. except through skill-intensive and expensive manual editing processes. This bias likely arises due to accuracy shortcomings in the exterior orientation determination for the SPOT5 line scanner imagery. as to differences in basic metric resolution of the different technologies. to a lesser extent. the SPOT5 DEM also produced a relative accuracy well within specifications. but here the bias problem was very significant. Multiple-return LiDAR displays significant advantages by way of last-pulse ground definition. In regard to the five DEM generation technologies evaluated against LiDAR within the project. though there is an absence of available tools to assess the extent of such systematic errors. a 4-7m systematic elevation error was present. The residual systematic elevation errors attributable to incomplete filtering of DEMs have the potential to compromise the integrity of bare-earth elevation models in low-lying coastal areas that are either heavily vegetated or urbanized. When corrected for bias. and indeed in the case of the 1-second SRTM accuracy significantly exceeded specifications. which revealed an overall RMS height discrepancy value of close to 0. the following short summaries of the performance of each of the DEM generation technologies in the four selected test sites on the mid north coast of NSW are offered:  The integrity if the LiDAR ‘master’ DEM was validated through checks against the 27. each produced localized.15m. It must be kept in mind. and to a lesser extent. Finally. relative vertical accuracy within specifications. As a consequence of the classification/filtering issues. In the case of the open pasture (Area b). that all checkpoints were positioned along open roads where issues with filtering in the DSM-to-DEM conversion do not arise. which was performed without the use of local ground control. which cannot be matched in densely vegetated areas by radar and photogrammetry techniques. Whereas the removal of vegetation and building from the DSM through automated classification and filtering can be expected to be more complete with multiple-return LiDAR than with radar or Topo DEMs. however. the difference in vertical resolution between different DEM data sources. irrespective of land cover.000-point kinematic GPS survey. In the case of the SPOT5 DEM. man-made structures within the DSM-toDEM conversion of the radar and photogrammetrically produced DEMs. This is entirely consistent with the anticipated RMS elevation accuracy of the LiDAR DEM of 0.

This DEM displays localized areas of systematic height bias.     Acknowledgments This work was funded by the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The airborne IfSAR DEM displays an accuracy at the high end of its anticipated 0. but it displays a disturbingly high systematic height bias averaging around 5m. with its RMSE value range of 2. 42 . which has only minor coverage of either scrubland or forest.1m. in some cases due to changes in land cover. The 1-second SRTM DEM. which is inside specifications. and has optimal accuracy in low-lying areas with sparse vegetation coverage. it is noteworthy that within Area 2. The Topo DEM derived from 1:25. the better than 1m height accuracy attained in the smoothed DSM is consistent with accuracy specifications.000 topographic map data is internally quite consistent and displays an accuracy in accordance with its 3m specification. a comprehensive DEM accuracy analysis was precluded. Given that the ADS40 elevation model was really a smoothed.5 to 1m range. However.2 to 4. The SPOT5 DEM also produces an accuracy. partially filtered DSM. appears to be a more accurate bare-earth elevation model than its accuracy specifications would suggest. as quantified by an RMSE value of around 5m.

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