EVALUATING THE EFFECTS OF REDUCTIONS IN LiDAR DATA ON THE VISUAL AND STATISTICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CREATED DIGITAL ELEVATION MODELS
Keywords: DEM/DSM/DTM, Airborne LiDAR, Point cloud density, Visualization, DEM quality, Elevation accuracy, Spatial analysis
Abstract. With continuous developments in LiDAR technologies high point cloud densities have been attainable but accompanied by challenges for processing big volumes of data. Reductions in high point cloud densities are expected to lower data acquisition and data processing costs; however this could affect the characteristics of the generated Digital Elevation Models (DEMs). This research aimed to evaluate the effects of reductions in airborne LiDAR point cloud data densities on the visual and statistical characteristics of the generated DEMs. DEMs have been created from a dataset which constitutes last returns of raw LiDAR data that was acquired at bare lands for Gilmer County, USA between March and April 2004, where qualitative and quantitative testing analyses have been performed. Visual analysis has shown that the DEM can withstand a considerable degree of quality with reduced densities down to 0.128 pts/m2 (47 % of the data remaining), however degradations in the DEM visual characteristics appeared in coarser tones and rougher textures have occurred with more reductions. Additionally, the statistical analysis has indicated that the standard deviations of the DEM elevations have decreased by only 22 % of the total decrease with data density reductions down to 0.101 pts/m2 (37 % of the data remaining) while greater rate of decreasing in the standard deviations has occurred with more reductions referring to greater rate of surface smoothing and elevation approximating. Furthermore, the accuracy analysis testing has given that the DEM accuracy has degraded by only 4.83 % of the total degradations with data density reductions down to 0.128 pts/m2, however great deteriorations in the DEM accuracy have occurred with more data reductions. Finally, it is recommended that LiDAR data can withstand point density reductions down to 0.128 pts/m2 (about 50 % of the data) without big deteriorations in the visual and statistical characteristics of the generated DEMs.