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Accuracy assessment in glacier change analysis

Linuza, Inese LU (2014) In LUMA-GIS Thesis GISM01 20141
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
This thesis assesses the accuracy of digital elevation models (DEM) generated from contour lines and LiDAR points (Light Detection and Ranging) employing several interpolation methods at different resolutions. The study area is Jostefonn glacier that is situated in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. There are several ways to assess accuracy of DEMs including simple ways such as visual comparison and more sophisticated methods like relative and absolute comparison.

Digital elevation models of the Jostefonn glacier were created from contour lines for years 1966 and 1993. LiDAR data from year 2011 was used as a reference data set. Of all the interpolation methods tested Natural Neighbours (NN) and Triangular Irregular Network (TIN)... (More)
This thesis assesses the accuracy of digital elevation models (DEM) generated from contour lines and LiDAR points (Light Detection and Ranging) employing several interpolation methods at different resolutions. The study area is Jostefonn glacier that is situated in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. There are several ways to assess accuracy of DEMs including simple ways such as visual comparison and more sophisticated methods like relative and absolute comparison.

Digital elevation models of the Jostefonn glacier were created from contour lines for years 1966 and 1993. LiDAR data from year 2011 was used as a reference data set. Of all the interpolation methods tested Natural Neighbours (NN) and Triangular Irregular Network (TIN) algorithms rendered the best results and proved to be superior to other interpolation methods. Several resolutions were tested (the cell size of 5 m, 10 m, 20 m and 50 m) and the best outcome was achieved by as small cell size as possible. The digital elevation models were compared to a reference data set outside the glacier area both on a cell-by-cell basis and extracting information at test points. Both methods rendered the same results that are presented in this thesis.

Several techniques were employed to assess the accuracy of digital elevation models including visualization and statistical analysis. Visualization techniques included comparison of the original contour lines with those generated from DEMs. Root mean square error, mean absolute error and other accuracy measures were statistically analysed. The greatest elevation difference between the digital elevation model of interest and the reference data set was observed in the areas of a steep terrain. The steeper the terrain, the greater the observed error. The magnitude of the errors can be reduced by using a smaller cell size but that this is offset by a larger amount of data and increased data processing time. (Less)
Abstract
Popular science
Glaciers are very sensitive indicators of climate change. The major cause of melting glaciers is global warming. This rapid rate of melting has serious negative impact on the earth causing flooding, leaving impact on flora and fauna, resulting in shortage of freshwater and hydroelectricity. The long-term monitoring of glaciers and the knowledge gained from it can help governments, environmental and water resource managers to make plans to cope with impacts of climate change. Results from glacier monitoring ought to be precise, showing the actual situation compared to the situation in the past as well as predicting possible glacier changes in the future. The aim of this thesis was to investigate how sensitive the results... (More)
Popular science
Glaciers are very sensitive indicators of climate change. The major cause of melting glaciers is global warming. This rapid rate of melting has serious negative impact on the earth causing flooding, leaving impact on flora and fauna, resulting in shortage of freshwater and hydroelectricity. The long-term monitoring of glaciers and the knowledge gained from it can help governments, environmental and water resource managers to make plans to cope with impacts of climate change. Results from glacier monitoring ought to be precise, showing the actual situation compared to the situation in the past as well as predicting possible glacier changes in the future. The aim of this thesis was to investigate how sensitive the results were to different methods used in glacier change detection focusing on the quality of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs).

The study area of this thesis was the Jostefonn glacier situated in Sogn and Fjordane county, Norway. Digital elevation models were created from contour lines for years 1966 and 1993. LiDAR data from year 2011 was used as a reference data set. Several techniques were employed to estimate the accuracy of digital elevation models including visualization, statistical analysis, analysing the accuracy of digital elevation models for terrain on different slopes, comparison to a reference data set outside the glacier area that was considered to be stable and where no elevation change was expected.

The original contour lines (1966 and 1993) were compared with the ones generated from the created terrain models (glacier area) as well as with the contour lines from the reference data set (outside the glacier area) by visualization techniques. Accuracy measures (Root Mean Square Error, Mean Absolute Error and others) were statistically analysed. Natural Neighbours and Triangular Irregular Network interpolators proved to be superior to other algorithms used to create the terrain models. The best outcome was achieved by using as small cell size as possible. 5 m resolution rendered the best results from the resolutions tested (5 m, 10 m, 20 m and 50 m). The greatest elevation differences were observed in the areas of a steep terrain. The steeper the terrain, the greater the elevation difference. The terracing effect was noticed in the digital elevation models due to the high density of elevation points on the contour lines and hardly any points between them.

Useful information can be obtained by estimating accuracy of digital elevation models. The accuracy of terrain models determines the reliability of glacier change analysis and that is why the digital elevation model must represent the terrain as accurately as possible. The different methods used in this thesis rendered very similar results and that indicated that the results were reliable and the terrain models created with Natural Neighbours and Triangular Irregular Network interpolators (resolution of 5 m) can be employed in further glacier change analysis. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Linuza, Inese LU
supervisor
organization
course
GISM01 20141
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, accuracy assessment, glaciology, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), interpolation
publication/series
LUMA-GIS Thesis
report number
27
language
English
additional info
External supervisor Liss Marie Andreassen Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, NVE, Norway
id
4438080
date added to LUP
2014-05-15 18:48:21
date last changed
2014-05-15 18:48:21
@misc{4438080,
  abstract     = {Popular science
Glaciers are very sensitive indicators of climate change. The major cause of melting glaciers is global warming. This rapid rate of melting has serious negative impact on the earth causing flooding, leaving impact on flora and fauna, resulting in shortage of freshwater and hydroelectricity. The long-term monitoring of glaciers and the knowledge gained from it can help governments, environmental and water resource managers to make plans to cope with impacts of climate change. Results from glacier monitoring ought to be precise, showing the actual situation compared to the situation in the past as well as predicting possible glacier changes in the future. The aim of this thesis was to investigate how sensitive the results were to different methods used in glacier change detection focusing on the quality of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs).

The study area of this thesis was the Jostefonn glacier situated in Sogn and Fjordane county, Norway. Digital elevation models were created from contour lines for years 1966 and 1993. LiDAR data from year 2011 was used as a reference data set. Several techniques were employed to estimate the accuracy of digital elevation models including visualization, statistical analysis, analysing the accuracy of digital elevation models for terrain on different slopes, comparison to a reference data set outside the glacier area that was considered to be stable and where no elevation change was expected.

The original contour lines (1966 and 1993) were compared with the ones generated from the created terrain models (glacier area) as well as with the contour lines from the reference data set (outside the glacier area) by visualization techniques. Accuracy measures (Root Mean Square Error, Mean Absolute Error and others) were statistically analysed. Natural Neighbours and Triangular Irregular Network interpolators proved to be superior to other algorithms used to create the terrain models. The best outcome was achieved by using as small cell size as possible. 5 m resolution rendered the best results from the resolutions tested (5 m, 10 m, 20 m and 50 m). The greatest elevation differences were observed in the areas of a steep terrain. The steeper the terrain, the greater the elevation difference. The terracing effect was noticed in the digital elevation models due to the high density of elevation points on the contour lines and hardly any points between them. 

Useful information can be obtained by estimating accuracy of digital elevation models. The accuracy of terrain models determines the reliability of glacier change analysis and that is why the digital elevation model must represent the terrain as accurately as possible. The different methods used in this thesis rendered very similar results and that indicated that the results were reliable and the terrain models created with Natural Neighbours and Triangular Irregular Network interpolators (resolution of 5 m) can be employed in further glacier change analysis.},
  author       = {Linuza, Inese},
  keyword      = {Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis,GIS,accuracy assessment,glaciology,Digital Elevation Models (DEMs),interpolation},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {LUMA-GIS Thesis},
  title        = {Accuracy assessment in glacier change analysis},
  year         = {2014},
}