A waterbody detection technique is an essential part of a digital elevation model (DEM) generation to delineate land–water boundaries and set flattened elevations. This paper describes the technical methodology for improving the initial tile-based waterbody data that are created during production of the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER) GDEM, because without improvement such tile-based waterbodies data are not suitable for incorporating into the new ASTER GDEM Version 3. Waterbodies are classified into three categories: sea, lake, and river. For sea-waterbodies, the effect of sea ice is removed to better delineate sea shorelines in high latitude areas: sea ice prevents accurate delineation of sea shorelines. For lake-waterbodies, the major part of the processing is to set the unique elevation value for each lake using a mosaic image that covers the entire lake area. Rivers present a unique challenge, because their elevations gradually step down from upstream to downstream. Initially, visual inspection is required to separate rivers from lakes. A stepwise elevation assignment, with a step of one meter, is carried out by manual or automated methods, depending on the situation. The ASTER global water database (GWBD) product consists of a global set of 1° latitude-by-1° longitude tiles containing water body attribute and elevation data files in geographic latitude and longitude coordinates and with one arc second posting. Each tile contains 3601-by-3601 data points. All improved waterbody elevation data are incorporated into the ASTER GDEM to reflect the improved results.
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