Can low-resolution airborne laser scanning data be used to model stream rating curves?

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This pilot study explores the potential of using low-resolution (0.2 points/m2) airborne laser scanning (ALS)-derived elevation data to model stream rating curves. Rating curves, which allow the functional translation of stream water depth into discharge, making them integral to water resource monitoring efforts, were modeled using a physics-based approach that captures basic geometric measurements to establish flow resistance due to implicit channel roughness. We tested synthetically thinned high-resolution (more than 2 points/m2) ALS data as a proxy for low-resolution data at a point density equivalent to that obtained within most national-scale ALS strategies. Our results show that the errors incurred due to the effect of low-resolution versus high-resolution ALS data were less than those due to flow measurement and empirical rating curve fitting uncertainties. As such, although there likely are scale and technical limitations to consider, it is theoretically possible to generate rating curves in a river network from ALS data of the resolution anticipated within national-scale ALS schemes (at least for rivers with relatively simple geometries). This is promising, since generating rating curves from ALS scans would greatly enhance our ability to monitor streamflow by simplifying the overall effort required.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Can low-resolution airborne laser scanning data be used to model stream rating curves?
Series title Water
DOI 10.3390/w7041324
Volume 7
Issue 4
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher MDPI
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 1324
Last page 1339
Country Sweden
Other Geospatial Krycklan catchment
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