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Remote Sens. 2011, 3(2), 398-415; doi:10.3390/rs3020398

Sky-View Factor as a Relief Visualization Technique

1,2,* , 2,3
1 Institute of Geophysics, University of Hamburg, Bundesstr. 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany 2 Centre of Excellence Space-SI, Aškerčeva cesta 12, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia 3 Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, ZRC SAZU, Novi trg 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 January 2011 / Revised: 10 February 2011 / Accepted: 14 February 2011 / Published: 23 February 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Natural and Cultural Heritage)
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Remote sensing has become the most important data source for the digital elevation model (DEM) generation. DEM analyses can be applied in various fields and many of them require appropriate DEM visualization support. Analytical hill-shading is the most frequently used relief visualization technique. Although widely accepted, this method has two major drawbacks: identifying details in deep shades and inability to properly represent linear features lying parallel to the light beam. Several authors have tried to overcome these limitations by changing the position of the light source or by filtering. This paper proposes a new relief visualization technique based on diffuse, rather than direct, illumination. It utilizes the sky-view factor—a parameter corresponding to the portion of visible sky limited by relief. Sky-view factor can be used as a general relief visualization technique to show relief characteristics. In particular, we show that this visualization is a very useful tool in archaeology as it improves the recognition of small scale features from high resolution DEMs.
Keywords: relief mapping; visualization; digital elevation model; sky-view factor; analytical hill-shading relief mapping; visualization; digital elevation model; sky-view factor; analytical hill-shading
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Zakšek, K.; Oštir, K.; Kokalj, Ž. Sky-View Factor as a Relief Visualization Technique. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 398-415.

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