DEM Development from Ground-Based LiDAR Data: A Method to Remove Non-Surface Objects
journal contributionposted on 23.11.2010, 00:00 by M. P. Sharma, Ginger B. Paige, Scott N. Miller
Topography and land cover characteristics can have significant effects on infiltration, runoff, and erosion processes on watersheds. The ability to model the timing and routing of surface water and erosion is affected by the resolution of the digital elevation model (DEM). High resolution ground-based Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) technology can be used to collect detailed topographic and land cover characteristic data. In this study, a method was developed to remove vegetation from ground-based LiDAR data to create high resolution DEMs. Research was conducted on intensively studied rainfall-runoff plots on the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Southeast Arizona. LiDAR data were used to generate 1 cm resolution digital surface models (DSM) for 5 plots. DSMs created directly from LiDAR data contain non-surface objects such as vegetation cover. A vegetation removal method was developed which used a slope threshold and a focal mean filter method to remove vegetation and create bare earth DEMs. The method was validated on a synthetic plot, where rocks and vegetation were added incrementally. Results of the validation showed a vertical error of ±7.5 mm in the final DEM.