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Geomorphometry on the surface of a triaxial ellipsoid: towards the solution of the problem

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Existing algorithms of geomorphometry can be applied to digital elevation models (DEMs) given with plane square grids or spheroidal equal angular grids on the surface of an ellipsoid of revolution or a sphere. Computations on spheroidal equal angular grids are trivial for modelling of the Earth, Mars, the Moon, Venus, and Mercury. This is because: (a) forms of these celestial bodies can be described by an ellipsoid of revolution or a sphere and (b) for these surfaces, there are well-developed theory and algorithms to solve the inverse geodetic problem as well as to determine spheroidal trapezoidal areas. It is advisable to apply a triaxial ellipsoid for describing the forms of small moons and asteroids. However, there are no geomorphometric algorithms intended for such a surface. In this article, first, we formulate the problem of geomorphometric modelling on a triaxial ellipsoid surface. Then, we recall definitions and formulae for coordinate systems of a triaxial ellipsoid and their transformation. Next, we present analytical and computational solutions, which provide the basis for geomorphometric modelling on the surface of a triaxial ellipsoid. The Jacobi solution for the inverse geodetic problem has a fundamental mathematical character. The Bespalov solutions for determination of the length of meridian/parallel arcs and the spheroidal trapezoidal areas are computationally efficient. Finally, we describe easy-to-code algorithms for derivation of local and non-local morphometric variables from DEMs based on a spheroidal equal angular grid of a triaxial ellipsoid.
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Keywords: Digital elevation or terrain models; Ellipsoid; Geocomputation; Inverse geodetic problem

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Mathematical Problems of Biology, Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Russia

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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