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Modelling vertical error in LiDAR-derived digital elevation models

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Fernando Aguilar Torres, Professor Jon MillsORCiD, Martha Delgado


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A hybrid theoretical-empirical model has been developed for modelling the error in LiDAR-derived digital elevation models (DEMs) of non-open terrain. The theoretical component seeks to model the propagation of the sample data error (SDE), i.e. the error from light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data capture of ground sampled points in open terrain, towards interpolated points. The interpolation methods used for infilling gaps may produce a non-negligible error that is referred to as gridding error. in this case, interpolation is performed using an inverse distance weighting (IDW) method with the local support of the five closest neighbours, although it would be possible to utilize other interpolation methods. The empirical component refers to what is known as "information loss". This is the error purely due to modelling the continuous terrain surface from only a discrete number of points plus the error arising from the interpolation process. The SDE must be previously calculated from a suitable number of check points located in open terrain and assumes that the LiDAR point density was sufficiently high to neglect the gridding error. For model calibration, data for 29 study sites, 200 x 20) in in size, belonging to different areas around Almeria province, south-east Spain, were acquired by means of stereo photogrammetric methods. The developed methodology was validated against two different LiDAR datasets. The first dataset used was an Ordnance Survey (OS) LiDAR survey carried out over a region of Bristol in the UK. The second dataset was an area located at Gador mountain range, south of Almeria province, Spain. Both terrain slope and sampling density were incorporated in the empirical component through the calibration phase, resulting in a very good agreement between predicted and observed data (R-2 = 0.9856; p < 0.001). In validation, Bristol observed vertical errors, corresponding to different LiDAR point densities, offered a reasonably good fit to the predicted errors. Even better results were achieved in the more rugged morphology of the Gador mountain range dataset. The findings presented in this article could be used as a guide for the selection of appropriate operational parameters (essentially point density in order to optimize survey cost), in projects related to LiDAR survey in non-open terrain, for instance those projects dealing with forestry applications. (C) 2009 International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Inc. (ISPRS). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aguilar FJ, Mills JP, Delgado J, Aguilar MA, Negreiros JG, Perez JL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Year: 2010

Volume: 65

Issue: 1

Pages: 103-110

ISSN (print): 0924-2716

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8235

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2009.09.003


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