WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL
Project ID: 2004MI52B
Title: Sediment transport modeling using high resolution LIDAR-derived DEMs
Project Type: Research
Focus Categories: Methods, Non Point Pollution, Sediments
Keywords: Scale, DEM, hydrologic model, accuracy, LIDAR
Start Date: 03/01/2004
End Date: 02/28/2005
Federal Funds: $15,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $30,879
Congressional District: Eighth
Michigan State University
Very high resolution digital elevation model (DEM) data (sub 3 meter horizontal resolution) has been collected from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors mounted in aircraft; some of this data is publically available via the internet. It is anticipated that much or all of the United States will be covered by high resolution, public domain DEMs derived from this technology within a decade. In theory, this should lead to tremendous improvements in our ability to determine key spatial hydrological parameters like flow vectors, which in turn should enable a high degree of precision in specifying the dynamics of sediment transport in surface water flow.
However, important questions remain. How well do LIDAR-derived DEMs depict terrain derivatives important for water-related applications? Are these products truly “bare-earth”, meaning that they depict the way that water flows across it, or are they affected by vegetation and human constructions? Perhaps most importantly, will the low relief typical of Michigan watersheds confound hydrologic modeling applications, even employing high resolution, high accuracy DEMs?
This proposal lays out a research agenda to address these questions. We will obtain a suitable high-resolution LIDARr-derived terrain dataset and conduct an analysis of its utility for modeling soil loss and sediment transport. We anticipate that problems with the terrain data will propagate to the surface derivatives necessary for conducting water and sediment flow modeling. The methodology outlined in this proposal should enable us to identify if this is so, indicate the magnitude of the impact, and consider key implications for the rapidly approaching future of very high resolution surface water modeling.