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Causes and consequences of error in digital elevation models

By Peter F. Fisher and N. J. Tate


All digital data contain error and many are uncertain. Digital models of elevation surfaces consist of files containing large numbers of measurements representing the height of the surface of the earth, and therefore a proportion of those measurements are very likely to be subject to some level of error and uncertainty. The collection and handling of such data and their associated uncertainties has been a subject of considerable research, which has focused largely upon the description of the effects of interpolation and resolution uncertainties, as well as modelling the occurrence of errors. However, digital models of elevation derived from new technologies employing active methods of laser and radar ranging are becoming more widespread, and past research will need to be re-evaluated in the near future to accommodate such new data products. In this paper we review the source and nature of errors in digital models of elevation, and in the derivatives of such models. We examine the correction of errors and assessment of fitness for use, and finally we identify some priorities for future research

Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1191/0309133306pp492ra
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