COMPARISON OF MULTI-SCALE DIGITAL ELEVATION MODELS FOR DEFINING WATERWAYS AND CATCHMENTS OVER LARGE AREAS
Keywords: Digital Elevation Models, Waterways, Geographic Information Systems, Regional Areas, Lidar
Abstract. Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) allow for the efficient and consistent creation of waterways and catchment boundaries over large areas. Studies of waterway delineation from DEMs are usually undertaken over small or single catchment areas due to the nature of the problems being investigated. Improvements in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques, software, hardware and data allow for analysis of larger data sets and also facilitate a consistent tool for the creation and analysis of waterways over extensive areas. However, rarely are they developed over large regional areas because of the lack of available raw data sets and the amount of work required to create the underlying DEMs. This paper examines definition of waterways and catchments over an area of approximately 25,000 km2 to establish the optimal DEM scale required for waterway delineation over large regional projects.
The comparative study analysed multi-scale DEMs over two test areas (Wivenhoe catchment, 543 km2 and a detailed 13 km2 within the Wivenhoe catchment) including various data types, scales, quality, and variable catchment input parameters. Historic and available DEM data was compared to high resolution Lidar based DEMs to assess variations in the formation of stream networks. The results identified that, particularly in areas of high elevation change, DEMs at 20 m cell size created from broad scale 1:25,000 data (combined with more detailed data or manual delineation in flat areas) are adequate for the creation of waterways and catchments at a regional scale.