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A Comparison Between Contour Elevation Data Sources for DEM Creation and Soil Carbon Prediction, Coshocton, Ohio

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A raster and vector GIS was created for the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed (NAEW) from legacy (1960) 1:2,400-scale contour maps. The intent of the study was to use terrain data for the spatial modeling of soil organic carbon. It was hypothesized that DEMs derived from these data would be more accurate and therefore more useful for terrain-based soil modeling than those from USGS 1:24,000-scale contour data. Central tasks for this study were to digitally capture the 1:2,400-scale maps, convert digital contour data sources to raster DEMs at multiple resolutions, and derive terrain attributes. A flexible approach was adopted, using software outside of mainstream GIS sources where scientifically or practically advantageous. Elevation contours and streamlines were converted to raster DEMs using ANUDEM. DEMs ranging in resolution from 0.5–30 m were tested for accuracy against precision carrier-phase GPS data. The residual standard deviation was 1.68 meters for the USGS DEM and 0.36 meters for the NAEW DEM. The optimal horizontal resolution for the NAEW DEM was 5 m and for the USGS 10 m. Five and 10 m resolution DEMs from both data sources were tested for carbon prediction. Multiple terrain parameters were derived as proxies for surficial processes. Soil samples (n = 184) were collected on four zero-order watersheds (conventional tillage, no-till, hay and pasture). Multiple least squares regressions (m.l.s.) were used to predict mass C (kg m−2, 30 cm depth) from topographic information. Model residuals were not spatially autocorrelated. Statistically significant topographic parameters were attained most consistently from the 5 m NAEW DEM. However, topography was not a strong predictor of carbon for these watersheds, with r2 ranging from 0.23 to 0.58.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Natural Resources, The Ohio State University

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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