Elevation data in riverine environments can be used in various applications for which different levels of accuracy are required. The Experimental Advanced Airborne Research LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) - or EAARL - system was used to obtain topographic and bathymetric data along the lower Boise River, southwestern Idaho, for use in hydraulic and habitat modeling. The EAARL data were post-processed into bare earth and bathymetric raster and point datasets.
Concurrently with the EAARL data collection, real-time kinetic global positioning system and total station ground-survey data were collected in three areas within the lower Boise River basin to assess the accuracy of the EAARL elevation data in different hydrogeomorphic settings. The accuracies of the EAARL-derived elevation data, determined in open, flat terrain, to provide an optimal vertical comparison surface, had root mean square errors ranging from 0.082 to 0.138 m. Accuracies for bank, floodplain, and in-stream bathymetric data had root mean square errors ranging from 0.090 to 0.583 m. The greater root mean square errors for the latter data are the result of high levels of turbidity in the downstream ground-survey area, dense tree canopy, and horizontal location discrepancies between the EAARL and ground-survey data in steeply sloping areas such as riverbanks.
The EAARL point to ground-survey comparisons produced results similar to those for the EAARL raster to ground-survey comparisons, indicating that the interpolation of the EAARL points to rasters did not introduce significant additional error. The mean percent error for the wetted cross-sectional areas of the two upstream ground-survey areas was 1 percent. The mean percent error increases to -18 percent if the downstream ground-survey area is included, reflecting the influence of turbidity in that area.