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Remote Sens. 2010, 2(8), 1941-1961;

Erosion Relevant Topographical Parameters Derived from Different DEMs—A Comparative Study from the Indian Lesser Himalayas

Institute of Soil Science and Forest Nutrition, Faculty of Forest and Environmental Science, Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, 79085 Freiburg i.Br., Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2010 / Revised: 2 August 2010 / Accepted: 2 August 2010 / Published: 13 August 2010
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Topography is a crucial surface characteristic in soil erosion modeling. Soil erosion studies use a digital elevation model (DEM) to derive the topographical characteristics of a study area. Majority of the times, a DEM is incorporated into erosion models as a given parameter and it is not tested as extensively as are the parameters related to soil, land-use and climate. This study compares erosion relevant topographical parameters—elevation, slope, aspect, LS factor—derived from 3 DEMs at original and 20 m interpolated resolution with field measurements for a 13 km2 watershed located in the Indian Lesser Himalaya. The DEMs are: a TOPO DEM generated from digitized contour lines on a 1:50,000 topographical map; a Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM at 90-m resolution; and an Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) DEM at 15-m resolution. Significant differences across the DEMs were observed for all the parameters. The highest resolution ASTER DEM was found to be the poorest of all the tested DEMs as the topographical parameters derived from it differed significantly from those derived from other DEMs and field measurements. TOPO DEM, which is, theoretically more detailed, produced similar results to the coarser SRTM DEM, but failed to produce an improved representation of the watershed topography. Comparison with field measurements and mixed regression modeling proved SRTM DEM to be the most reliable among the tested DEMs for the studied watershed. View Full-Text
Keywords: DEMs; ASTER; SRTM; topographical parameters; soil erosion modeling DEMs; ASTER; SRTM; topographical parameters; soil erosion modeling

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Datta, P.S.; Schack-Kirchner, H. Erosion Relevant Topographical Parameters Derived from Different DEMs—A Comparative Study from the Indian Lesser Himalayas. Remote Sens. 2010, 2, 1941-1961.

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