Coastal Change Hazards Team Demonstrates New Topobathymetric Model Fusion Technique to Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) Collaborators

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SPCMSC Physical Scientist Alex Seymour presented a virtual seminar on fusing DEMs in complex landscapes to scientists in the Ocean Sciences Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on June 26, 2020. 

On the left, the datasets are shown overlaid. On the right, the datasets are shown processed with a fusion algorithm.

A map series showing a subset of the Puerto Rico bathymetric study area. Panels compare a “simple mosaic” formed by overlaying the most recent dataset on top of the older dataset (left panel) with the same dataset processed with the DEM fusion method (right panel). (Credit: Alexander Seymour, USGS. Public domain.)

Geologists, oceanographers, and coastal scientists involved in topobathymetric modeling face a ubiquitous problem–how to best combine a patchwork of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) representing a complex landscape at differing times, spatial extents, and resolutions. The USGS Coastal Change Hazards (CCH) team developed an algorithm that can provide an automated solution, blending and extrapolating modeled surfaces around the dataset seamlines in a way that accounts for local variations in landscape elevation and slope. The method was used to generate a DEM covering ~35,000 km2 of topobathymetric surface around Puerto Rico. DEMs fused with this technique are an important part of forecasting coastal change hazards in Puerto Rico.