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An evaluation of void-filling interpolation methods for SRTM data

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The Digital Elevation Model that has been derived from the February 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) has been one of the most important publicly available new spatial data sets in recent years. However, the 'finished' grade version of the data (also referred to as Version 2) still contains data voids (some 836,000 km2) - and other anomalies - that prevent immediate use in many applications. These voids can be filled using a range of interpolation algorithms in conjunction with other sources of elevation data, but there is little guidance on the most appropriate void-filling method. This paper describes: (i) a method to fill voids using a variety of interpolators, (ii) a method to determine the most appropriate void-filling algorithms using a classification of the voids based on their size and a typology of their surrounding terrain; and (iii) the classification of the most appropriate algorithm for each of the 3,339,913 voids in the SRTM data. Based on a sample of 1304 artificial but realistic voids across six terrain types and eight void size classes, we found that the choice of void-filling algorithm is dependent on both the size and terrain type of the void. Contrary to some previous findings, the best methods can be generalised as: kriging or inverse distance weighting interpolation for small and medium size voids in relatively flat low-lying areas; spline interpolation for small and medium-sized voids in high-altitude and dissected terrain; triangular irregular network or inverse distance weighting interpolation for large voids in very flat areas, and an advanced spline method (ANUDEM) for large voids in other terrains.

Keywords: DEM; DEM fusion; Interpolation methods; Void filling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: European Commission - DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability - Land Management and Natural Hazards Unit, TP 280, Via Fermi 1, I-21020 Ispra (VA), Italy 2: European Commission - DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability - Global Environment Monitoring Unit, TP 440, Via Fermi 1, I-21020 Ispra (VA), Italy 3: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), Recta Cali-Palmira, km 17, AA6713 Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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