Processing and performance of topobathymetric lidar data for geomorphometric and morphological classification in a high-energy tidal environment
- 1Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 2Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 3Airborne Hydro Mapping GmbH, Innsbruck, Austria
- 4NIRAS, Allerød, Denmark
Abstract. The transition zone between land and water is difficult to map with conventional geophysical systems due to shallow water depth and often challenging environmental conditions. The emerging technology of airborne topobathymetric light detection and ranging (lidar) is capable of providing both topographic and bathymetric elevation information, using only a single green laser, resulting in a seamless coverage of the land–water transition zone. However, there is no transparent and reproducible method for processing green topobathymetric lidar data into a digital elevation model (DEM). The general processing steps involve data filtering, water surface detection and refraction correction. Specifically, the procedure of water surface detection and modelling, solely using green laser lidar data, has not previously been described in detail for tidal environments. The aim of this study was to fill this gap of knowledge by developing a step-by-step procedure for making a digital water surface model (DWSM) using the green laser lidar data. The detailed description of the processing procedure augments its reliability, makes it user-friendly and repeatable. A DEM was obtained from the processed topobathymetric lidar data collected in spring 2014 from the Knudedyb tidal inlet system in the Danish Wadden Sea. The vertical accuracy of the lidar data is determined to ±8 cm at a 95 % confidence level, and the horizontal accuracy is determined as the mean error to ±10 cm. The lidar technique is found capable of detecting features with a size of less than 1 m2. The derived high-resolution DEM was applied for detection and classification of geomorphometric and morphological features within the natural environment of the study area. Initially, the bathymetric position index (BPI) and the slope of the DEM were used to make a continuous classification of the geomorphometry. Subsequently, stage (or elevation in relation to tidal range) and a combination of statistical neighbourhood analyses (moving average and standard deviation) with varying window sizes, combined with the DEM slope, were used to classify the study area into six specific types of morphological features (i.e. subtidal channel, intertidal flat, intertidal creek, linear bar, swash bar and beach dune). The developed classification method is adapted and applied to a specific case, but it can also be implemented in other cases and environments.