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Vertical accuracy assessment of global digital elevation models and validation of gravity database heights in Niger

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In this study, we assessed the vertical accuracy of ASTER GDEM (Advanced Space-borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer – Global Digital Elevation Model) version 2, AW3D30 (ALOS World 3D – 30m) and the 1 and 3 arc-seconds versions of SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) in Niger Republic. We explored the GDEMs to evaluate large void and erroneous pixel areas. GDEMs were then compared to three kinds of ground control data located on several sites and all merged data after vertical datum matching. We also analysed the vertical accuracy by land cover and compared GDEMs to each other. We finally validated the gravity database heights by using the relatively most accurate GDEM. All GDEMs still contain void pixels except for SRTM3 CGIAR, it was then retained for the assessment with 1 arc-second GDEMs. The vertical accuracies in terms of RMS (Root Mean Square) and in m are: ASTER (6.2, 8.0, 9.8 and 9.2), AW3D30 (2.2, 2.1, 1.8 and 1.6), SRTM1 (3.8, 4.3, 2.5 and 2.9) and SRTM3 (3.7, 4.1, 2.4 and 2.7) compared to levelling data, local DEM of Imouraren, GPS (Global Positioning System) data and all merged data. Absolute height differences are less than 10 m at 74.00%, 99.99%, 99.91% and 99.98% for ASTER, AW3D30, SRTM1 and SRTM3, respectively. AW3D30 is the most accurate and ASTER is the least accurate. For all GDEMs, different accuracies were found depending on land cover classes that could be caused by the random spatial distribution of validation data. Small differences were observed between SRTM and AW3D30 and large values between the two models and ASTER similarly. The gravity database was validated using AW3D30, large values of height differences were found in the northern part in agreement with the database specifications and in the southern part indicating erroneous elevations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geo-resources and Environment Laboratory, Faculty of Sciences and Techniques, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University, Fez, Morocco

Publication date: October 18, 2019

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