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Filling the ‘white ribbon’ – a multisource seamless digital elevation model for Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef

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Hydrographers have traditionally referred to the nearshore area as the ‘white ribbon’ area due to the challenges associated with the collection of elevation data (elevation hereafter refers to both topography and bathymetry) in this highly dynamic transitional zone between terrestrial and marine environments. Accordingly, available information in this zone is typically characterized by a range of data sets from disparate sources. In this article, we propose a framework to fill the white ribbon area of a coral reef system by integrating multiple elevation data sets acquired by a suite of remote-sensing technologies into a seamless digital elevation model (DEM). A range of data sets are integrated, including field-collected global positioning system (GPS) elevation points, topographic and bathymetric light detecting and ranging (lidar), single and multibeam echosoundings, nautical charts, and bathymetry derived from optical remote-sensing imagery. The proposed framework ranks data reliability internally, thereby avoiding the requirements to quantify absolute error and results in a high-resolution, seamless product. Nested within this approach is an effective spatially explicit technique for improving the accuracy of bathymetry estimates derived empirically from optical satellite imagery through modelling the spatial structure of residuals. The approach was applied to data collected on and around Lizard Island in northern Australia. Collectively, the framework holds promise for filling the white ribbon zone in coastal areas characterized by similar data availability scenarios.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 2: Centre for Spatial Environmental Research, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 3: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia

Publication date: September 20, 2013

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