Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Whitepaper

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    Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Whitepaper

    NRCS High Resolution Elevation Data

    February 12, 2010

    Prepared by:

    David F. Maune, PhD, PSM, PS, GS, CP, CFM

    Dewberry

    8401 Arlington Blvd.

    Fairfax, VA 22031-4666

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    i

    Table of ContentsPurpose ................................................................................................................................................... 1

    NRCS Elevation Requirements ................................................................................................................. 2

    NRCS Business Cases for High Resolution DEMs ....................................................................................... 3

    DEM Project Applications .................................................................................................................... 3

    Soils Mapping .................................................................................................................................. 3

    Engineering...................................................................................................................................... 5

    Other Applications ........................................................................................................................... 5

    Precision Agriculture ........................................................................................................................ 5

    Benefits Identified in Survey Questionnaire ......................................................................................... 7

    LiDAR Tangible Benefits ................................................................................................................... 7

    LiDAR Intangible Benefits ................................................................................................................. 7

    IFSAR Tangible Benefits.................................................................................................................... 8

    IFSAR Intangible Benefits ................................................................................................................. 8

    Benefits Identified in NRCS Regional DEM Workshops ......................................................................... 8

    Benefits Identified in NRCS Headquarters Interviews ........................................................................... 8

    Conservation Engineering Division (CED) .......................................................................................... 8

    Conservation Planning Division (CPD)............................................................................................... 8

    Easement Programs Division (EPD) .................................................................................................. 9

    Ecological Site Division (ESD) ............................................................................................................ 9

    Resources Inventory and Assessment Division (RIAD)....................................................................... 9

    Soil Survey Division (SSD) ................................................................................................................. 9

    National Standards for LiDAR and IFSAR Data .......................................................................................... 9

    Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................... 10

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    Recommendations ................................................................................................................................ 11

    Appendix A DEM Primer ..................................................................................................................... 12

    DEM Products and Definitions ........................................................................................................... 12

    DEMs ............................................................................................................................................. 12

    DTMs and DSMs............................................................................................................................. 13

    Mass Points and Breaklines ............................................................................................................ 13

    TINs and Terrains ........................................................................................................................... 17

    Contours ........................................................................................................................................ 18

    DEM Mapping of Hydrographic Features ........................................................................................... 19

    Hydro-Enforcement ....................................................................................................................... 20

    Hydro-Conditioning........................................................................................................................ 21

    Hydro-Flattening ............................................................................................................................ 22

    Elevations, orthometric heights and ellipsoid heights ........................................................................ 25

    Terrain Analyses (Automated and Visual)........................................................................................... 27

    Hillshade ........................................................................................................................................ 29

    Slope ............................................................................................................................................. 29

    Aspect ........................................................................................................................................... 30

    Curvature ...................................................................................................................................... 31

    DEM Technologies ............................................................................................................................. 31

    Stereo Imagery and Photogrammetry ............................................................................................ 31

    Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) .......................................................................... 33

    LiDAR and Lidargrammetry ............................................................................................................ 35

    DEM Accuracy Standards and Guidelines ........................................................................................... 37

    Appendix B NRCS DEM Questionnaire and Responses ......................................................................... 39

    Appendix C NRCS DEM Project Applications ........................................................................................ 58

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    iii

    NRCS High-Use DEM Applications ...................................................................................................... 58

    Soils Mapping ................................................................................................................................ 58

    Engineering.................................................................................................................................... 61

    Wetlands ....................................................................................................................................... 62

    Conservation ................................................................................................................................. 62

    3D Modeling and Terrain Analysis .................................................................................................. 63

    Engineering Design ........................................................................................................................ 65

    Easements ..................................................................................................................................... 66

    Planning......................................................................................................................................... 66

    NRCS Mid-Use DEM Applications ....................................................................................................... 68

    Dams ............................................................................................................................................. 68

    Hydrology & Hydraulics.................................................................................................................. 69

    Floodplain Mapping/Analysis ......................................................................................................... 69

    Forest/Vegetation Analysis ............................................................................................................ 70

    Irrigation Systems .......................................................................................................................... 71

    Precision Agriculture ...................................................................................................................... 71

    Watershed Management ............................................................................................................... 72

    Erosion Control .............................................................................................................................. 72

    Pipeline Design .............................................................................................................................. 73

    Ponds ............................................................................................................................................ 73

    NRCS Low-Use DEM Applications ....................................................................................................... 73

    Cultural Resources ......................................................................................................................... 74

    Resources Inventory ...................................................................................................................... 74

    Stream Restoration ........................................................................................................................ 74

    Water Resources............................................................................................................................ 74

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    Ecology .......................................................................................................................................... 74

    Miscellaneous Applications ............................................................................................................ 75

    Appendix D NRCS DEM Project Lessons Learned ................................................................................. 76

    LiDAR Specific .................................................................................................................................... 76

    IFSAR Specific .................................................................................................................................... 77

    Standards .......................................................................................................................................... 77

    QA/QC ............................................................................................................................................... 77

    Training and/or Experience ................................................................................................................ 78

    Hardware and/or Software ................................................................................................................ 78

    Procedures ........................................................................................................................................ 79

    Contracting........................................................................................................................................ 79

    Appendix E NRCS DEM Project Benefits .............................................................................................. 81

    Tangible Benefits Time and Cost Savings ......................................................................................... 81

    LiDAR ............................................................................................................................................. 81

    IFSAR ............................................................................................................................................. 83

    Intangible Benefits Improved Products and Services ....................................................................... 83

    LiDAR ............................................................................................................................................. 83

    IFSAR ............................................................................................................................................. 87

    Intangible Benefits Improved Timeliness ......................................................................................... 87

    LiDAR ............................................................................................................................................. 87

    IFSAR ............................................................................................................................................. 88

    Disadvantages of IFSAR .................................................................................................................. 88

    Appendix F NRCS Employee Recommendations .................................................................................. 90

    Need for Standardization ................................................................................................................... 90

    Need for Flexibility ............................................................................................................................ 91

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    NRCS Acquisition Strategy ................................................................................................................. 92

    NRCS Partnerships ............................................................................................................................. 93

    NRCS Hardware and Software............................................................................................................ 93

    NRCS Workforce Development ....................................

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