A Scale-adaptive DEM for Multi-scale Terrain Analysis

International Journal of Geographical Information ScienceInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science, published online 15 November 2012

Yumin Chen and Qiming Zhou

“A scale-adaptive digital elevation model (S-DEM) method is proposed for multi-scale terrain analysis using a single high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) database. The motivation is to construct a DEM that is self-adaptive to a given scale of an application, rather than letting the application fit into the built-in scale of the DEM. The method is based on an adaptive compound point extraction (CPE) algorithm that extracts surface ‘significant points’ from a high-resolution DEM according to their degree of importance (DOI) to the scale of an application. A data structure can be established to match the demand from an application at a coarser scale. Based on the data structure, a triangulated irregular network (TIN) model can be generated to support the terrain analysis at the desired scale. The aim of the S-DEM is to support multi-scale applications in three aspects, namely, ‘one database for all scales and scale-adaptive’ (i.e. matching any application scale using a single high-resolution DEM), ‘consistent measurement’ (i.e. delivering more constant measurements of terrain parameters with changing scales), and ‘skeleton preservation’ (i.e. preserving basic streamlines with changing scales). Compared with the raster resampling algorithm and the maximum z-tolerance algorithm, we find that the proposed method offers better performance, providing values that meet the accuracy requirements set by DEM data standards for different scales, and producing analytical derivatives that retain terrain features with consistent measurements of terrain parameters.”