Back to the Future: Have Remotely Sensed Digital Elevation Models Improved Hydrological Parameter Extraction?

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Ben (Abdollah) Jarihani, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) that accurately replicate both landscape form and processes are critical to support modeling of environmental processes. Pre-processing analysis of DEMs and extracting characteristics of the watershed (e.g., stream networks, catchment delineation, surface and subsurface flow paths) is essential for hydrological and geomorphic analysis and sediment transport. This study investigates the status of the current remotely-sensed DEMs in providing advanced morphometric information of drainage basins particularly in data sparse regions. Here we assess the accuracy of three available DEMs: (i) hydrologically corrected “H-DEM” of Geoscience Australia derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data; (ii) the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer Global Digital Elevation Model (ASTER GDEM) version2 1-arc-second (~30 m) data; and (iii) the 9-arc-second national GEODATA DEM-9S ver3 from Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University. We used ESRI’s geospatial data model, Arc Hydro and HEC-GeoHMS, designed for building hydrologic information systems to synthesize geospatial and temporal water resources data that support hydrologic modeling and analysis. A coastal catchment in northeast Australia was selected as the study site where very high resolution LiDAR data are available for parts of the area as reference data to assess the accuracy of other lower resolution datasets. This study provides morphometric information for drainage basins as part of the broad research on sediment flux from coastal basins to Great Barrier Reef, Australia. After applying geo-referencing and elevation corrections, stream and sub basins were delineated for each DEM. Then physical characteristics for streams (i.e., length, upstream and downstream elevation, and slope) and sub-basins (i.e., longest flow lengths, area, relief and slopes) were extracted and compared with reference datasets from LiDAR. Results showed that, in the absence of high-precision and high resolution DEM data, ASTER GDEM or SRTM DEM can be used to extract common morphometric relationship which are widely used for hydrological and geomorphological modelling.