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Novel approach for ranking DEMs: Copernicus DEM improves one arc second open global topography

February 20, 2024

We present a practical approach to intercompare a range of candidate digital elevation models (DEMs) based on predefined criteria and a statistically sound ranking approach. The presented approach integrates the randomized complete block design (RCBD) into a novel framework for DEM comparison. The method presented provides a flexible, statistically sound, and customizable tool for evaluating the quality of any raster—in this case, a DEM—by means of a ranking approach, which takes into account a confidence level and can use both quantitative and qualitative criteria. The users can design their own criteria for the quality evaluation in relation to their specific needs. The application of the RCBD method to rank six 1′′ global DEMs, considering a wide set of study sites, covering different morphological and land cover settings, highlights the potentialities of the approach. We used a suite of criteria relating to the differences in the elevation, slope, and roughness distributions compared to reference DEMs aggregated from 1- to 5-m light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived DEMs. Results confirmed the significant superiority of Copernicus DEM (CopDEM) 1′′ and its derivative forests and buildings removed DEM (FABDEM) as the overall best 1′′ global DEMs. They are slightly better than Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) and clearly outperform NASADEM and SRTM, which are, in turn, much better than advanced spaceborne thermal emission and reflection radiometer (ASTER).

Publication Year 2024
Title Novel approach for ranking DEMs: Copernicus DEM improves one arc second open global topography
DOI 10.1109/TGRS.2024.3368015
Authors Conrad Bielski, Carlos López-Vázquez, Carlos H. Grohmann, Peter L. Guth, Laurence Hawker, Dean B. Gesch, Sebastiano Trevisani, Virginia Herrera-Cruz, Serge Riazanoff, Axel Corseaux, Hannes I. Reuter, Peter Strobl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Index ID 70252144
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center