A multi-sensor approach towards a global vegetation corrected SRTM DEM product

Fiachra E O'Loughlin*, Rodrgio C.D. Paiva, Michael Durand, DE Alsdorf, Paul Bates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
404 Downloads (Pure)


We develop the first global 'Bare-Earth' Digital Elevation Model (DEM) based on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) for all landmasses between 60N and 54S. Our new 'Bare-Earth' SRTM DEM combines multiple remote sensing datasets, including point-ground elevations from NASA’s laser altimeter ICESat, a database of percentage of tree cover from the MODIS satellite as a proxy for penetration depth of SRTM and a global vegetation height map in order to remove the vegetation artefacts present in the original SRTM DEM. We test multiple methods of removing vegetation artefacts and investigate the use of regionalisation. Our final 'Bare-Earth' SRTM product shows global improvements greater than 10m in the bias over the original SRTM DEM in vegetated areas compared with ground elevations determined from ICESat data with a significant reduction in the root mean square error from over 14m to 6m globally. Therefore, our DEM will be valuable for any global applications, such as large scale flood modelling requiring a 'Bare-Earth' DEM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Early online date18 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

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