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Digital Terrain Model Resolution and its Influence on Estimating the Extent of Rockfall Areas

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As rockfall can cause a great deal of damage, it is essential to know its spatial propagation. Rockfall models are sensitive to the resolution of input data, i.e. the Digital Terrain Model (DTM) used. Nowadays, high resolution elevation data are available area‐wide from airborne laser scanning (ALS). However, rockfall models are designed for analysis on a certain scale, which means that high resolution input might not necessarily improve model results (e.g. for regional scale studies). Our aim is to estimate the reach of rockfall by analysing different input resolutions of an ALS DTM. The presented empirically–based model, implemented in Python 2.7, is a modified version of the zenital method including an iterative random walk trajectory model, which is designed for rockfall hazard assessment at the regional scale. Trajectories and rockfall probability maps are generated for selected DTM input resolutions. The comparison shows that high resolution DTMs do consider local topography better and thus lead to more realistic results than low resolution DTMs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2012

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