Impact of Lidar Nominal Post-Spacing On DEM Accuracy and Flood Zone Delineation

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Geography and Geology


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Lidar data have become a Major source of digital terrain information for use in many applications including hydraulic modeling and flood plane mapping. Based on established relationships between sampling intensity and error, nominal post-spacing likely contributes significantly to the error budget. Post-spacing is also a major cost factor during lidar data collection. This research presents methods for establishing a relationship between nominal post-spacing and its effects on hydraulic modeling for flood zone delineation. Lidar data collected at a low post-spacing (approximately 1 to 2 m) over a piedmont study area in North Carolina was systematically decimated to simulate datasets with sequentially higher post-spacing values. Using extensive first-order ground survey information, the accuracy of each DEM derived from these lidar datasets was assessed and reported. Hydraulic analyses were performed utilizing standard engineering practices and modeling software (HEC-RAS). All input variables were held constant in each model run except for the topographic information from the decimated lidar datasets. The results were compared to a hydraulic analysis performed on the un-decimated reference dataset. The sensitivity of the primary model outputs to the variation in nominal post-spacing is reported. The results indicate that base flood elevation does not statistically change over the post-spacing values tested. Conversely, flood zone boundary mapping was found to be sensitive to variations in post-spacing.

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Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing





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