A comparison of SRTM and high-resolution digital elevation models and their use in catchment geomorphology and hydrology: Australian examples

Hancock, G. R., Martinez, C., Evans, K. G. and Moliere, D. R. (2006) A comparison of SRTM and high-resolution digital elevation models and their use in catchment geomorphology and hydrology: Australian examples. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31 11: 1394-1412. doi:10.1002/esp.1335


Author Hancock, G. R.
Martinez, C.
Evans, K. G.
Moliere, D. R.
Title A comparison of SRTM and high-resolution digital elevation models and their use in catchment geomorphology and hydrology: Australian examples
Journal name Earth Surface Processes and Landforms   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0197-9337
1096-9837
Publication date 2006-10-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/esp.1335
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 31
Issue 11
Start page 1394
End page 1412
Total pages 19
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract The recently released Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) 3-arc second digital elevation data set provides a complete global coverage of the Earth's land surface. In this paper we examine the SRTM data for three catchments in Australia over a range of climates, geology and resultant geomorphology. To test this new data set the SRTM data are compared with high resolution digital elevation models. We use basic hydrological and geomorphological statistics and descriptors such as the area-slope relationship, cumulative area distribution and hypsometric curve, along with Strahler and networking statistics. The above measures describe the surface morphology of a catchment, therefore integrating catchment geology, climate and vegetation. The SRTM data were also assessed as input into the SIBERIA landscape evolution and soil erosion model as were runoff properties, using a wetness index. The results demonstrate that the 90 m SRTM data provide a poor catchment representation. Hillslopes appear as a linked set of facets and display little of the complex curvature that is observed in high resolution data. While catchment area-slope and area-elevation (hypsometry) properties are largely correct, catchment area, relief and shape (as measured by the width function) are poorly captured by the SRTM data also results in working statistics are also variable. The large grid size of the SRTM data also results in incorrect drainage network patterns and different runoff properties. Consequently, care must be used for quantitative assessment of catchment hydrology and geomorphology, as in all cases SRTM-derived catchment area is incorrect and smaller digital elevation grid sizes are required for accurate catchment-wide assessment. While only a limited number of catchments have been examined, we believe our findings are applicable to other areas.
Keyword Digital elevation model
Geomorphic modelling
Geomorphology
Hydrological modelling
Hydrology
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
SIBERIA
Soil erosion
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
 
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