Comparison and validation of recent freely-available ASTER-GDEM ver1, SRTM ver4.1 and GEODATA DEM-9S ver3 digital elevation models over Australia
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This study investigates the quality (in terms of elevation accuracy and systematic errors) of three recent publicly available elevation model datasets over Australia: (i) the 9 arc second national GEODATA DEM-9S ver3 from Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University; (ii) the 3 arc second SRTM ver4.1 from CGIAR-CSI; and (iii) the 1 arc second ASTER-GDEM ver1 from NASA/METI. The main features of these datasets are reported from a geodetic point of view. Comparison at about 1 billion locations identifies artefacts (e.g. residual cloud patterns and stripe effects) in ASTER. For DEM-9S, the comparisons against the space-collected SRTM and ASTER models demonstrate that signal omission (due to the ~270 m spacing) may cause errors of the order of 100-200 m in some rugged areas of Australia. Based on a set of geodetic ground control points over Western Australia, the vertical accuracy of DEM-9S is ~9 m, SRTM ~6 m and ASTER ~15 m. However, these values vary as a function of the terrain type and shape. Thus, CGIAR-CSI SRTM ver4.1 may represent a viable alternative to DEM-9S for some applications. While ASTER GDEM has an unprecedented horizontal resolution of ~30 m, systematic errors present in this research-grade version of the ASTER GDEM ver1 will impede its immediate use for some applications.
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