Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service
  
Treesearch

Research & Development Treesearch

 
Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Northern
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help
 

Science.gov - We Participate


USA.gov  Government Made Easy


Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.
20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.3 MB)

Title: An algorithm for treating flat areas and depressions in digital elevation models using linear interpolation

Author: Pan, F.; Stieglitz, M.; McKane, R.B.;

Date: 2012

Source: Water Resources Research. 48(W00L10): 13 p.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Digital elevation model (DEM) data are essential to hydrological applications and have been widely used to calculate a variety of useful topographic characteristics, e.g., slope, flow direction, flow accumulation area, stream channel network, topographic index, and others. Except for slope, none of the other topographic characteristics can be calculated until the flow direction at each pixel within a DEM is determined. However, flow direction cannot be accurately calculated until depressions and flat areas within a DEM have been rectified. This is a routine problem in hydrologic modeling, because virtually all DEMs contain flat and sink pixels, both real and artifactual, that if left untreated will prevent accurate simulation of hydrologic flow paths. Although a number of algorithms are available for rectifying flat and sink pixels in DEM data, treatment of flat areas and depressions and calculation of flow direction remain problematic for reasons of complexity and uncertainty. A new algorithm that effectively rectifies flat and sink pixels was developed and tested. The approach is to use linear interpolation between low elevation grid cells on the edge of each flat area or depression defined as outlets and higher elevation grid cells on the opposite side defined as inflow pixels. The implementation requires an iterative solution to accommodate the irregular geometry of flat areas or depressions and exceptions that arise. Linear interpolation across flat areas or depressions provides a natural way to scale elevation adjustments based on the vertical scale of the surrounding topography, thereby avoiding the addition or subtraction of arbitrary small numbers that we regard as a disadvantage in some prior techniques. Tests for two virtual terrains and one real terrain show that our algorithm effectively rectifies flat areas and depressions, even in low-relief terrain, and produces realistic patterns of flow accumulation and extracted channel networks.

Keywords: DEM, model, algorithm

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

XML: View XML

Citation:


Pan, F.; Stieglitz, M.; McKane, R.B. 2012. An algorithm for treating flat areas and depressions in digital elevation models using linear interpolation. Water Resources Research. 48(W00L10): 13 p.

 


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.