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One-meter topobathymetric digital elevation model for Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, 1944 to 2016

March 30, 2018

Atoll and island coastal communities are highly exposed to sea-level rise, tsunamis, storm surges, rogue waves, king tides, and the occasional combination of multiple factors, such as high regional sea levels, extreme high local tides, and unusually strong wave set-up. The elevation of most of these atolls averages just under 3 meters (m), with many areas roughly at sea level. The lack of high-resolution topographic data has been identified as a critical data gap for hazard vulnerability and adaptation efforts and for high-resolution inundation modeling for atoll nations. Modern topographic survey equipment and airborne lidar surveys can be very difficult and costly to deploy. Therefore, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) were investigated for collecting overlapping imagery to generate topographic digital elevation models (DEMs). Medium- and high-resolution satellite imagery (Landsat 8 and WorldView-3) was investigated to derive nearshore bathymetry.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is associated with the United States through a Compact of Free Association, and Majuro Atoll is home to the capital city of Majuro and the largest population of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The only elevation datasets currently available for the entire Majuro Atoll are the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer Global Digital Elevation Model Version 2 elevation data, which have a 30-m grid-cell spacing and a 8-m vertical root mean square error (RMSE). Both these datasets have inadequate spatial resolution and vertical accuracy for inundation modeling.

The final topobathymetric DEM (TBDEM) developed for Majuro Atoll is derived from various data sources including charts, soundings, acoustic sonar, and UAS and satellite imagery spanning over 70 years of data collection (1944 to 2016) on different sections of the atoll. The RMSE of the TBDEM over the land area is 0.197 m using over 70,000 Global Navigation Satellite System real-time kinematic survey points for validation, and 1.066 m for Landsat 8 and 1.112 m for WorldView-3 derived bathymetry using over 16,000 and 9,000 lidar bathymetry points, respectively.

Publication Year 2018
Title One-meter topobathymetric digital elevation model for Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, 1944 to 2016
DOI 10.3133/sir20185047
Authors Monica Palaseanu-Lovejoy, Sandra K. Poppenga, Jeffrey J. Danielson, Dean J. Tyler, Dean B. Gesch, Maria Kottermair, Andrea Jalandoni, Edward Carlson, Cindy A. Thatcher, Matthew M. Barbee
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2018-5047
Index ID sir20185047
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center; Eastern Geographic Science Center