Adjustment of a spaceborne DEM for use in floodplain hydrodynamic modeling

Dai Yamazaki*, Calum A Baugh, Paul D. Bates, Shinjiro Kanae, Douglas E. Alsdorf, Taikan Oki

*Corresponding author for this work

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

104 Citations (Scopus)


Precise Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are required for the accurate modeling of floodplain hydrodynamics. The accuracy of currently available spaceborne DEMs however is hindered by a variety of errors which reduce the flow connectivity between river channels and the surrounding floodplains. Here we introduce a new algorithm for adjusting a spaceborne DEM which utilizes the information from a prescribed drainage networks dataset. The algorithm is designed to remove all the pits in the spaceborne DEM caused by vegetation canopies, sub-pixel sized structures, and random radar speckles while minimizing the amount of modification required for removing the pits. The proposed algorithm was applied to the SRTM3 DEM with reference to the drainage network information in the HydroSHEDS flow direction map. With consideration of the systematic errors in the SRMT3 DEM, small channels connecting floodplains were successfully implemented into the adjusted DEM. The accuracy of the adjusted DEM was validated using hydrodynamic simulations with the LISFLOOD-FP model in a middle reach of the Amazon River. The simulated water surface elevations and flooded areas with the adjusted DEM shows better agreement to observation data when compared to the results from the original SRTM3 DEM. The flow connectivity ensured by the DEM adjustment algorithm is found to be essential for representing realistic water exchanges between river channels and floodplains in hydrodynamics modeling. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Translated title of the contributionAdjustment of a spaceborne DEM for use in floodplain hydrodynamic modelling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier


  • HydroSHEDS
  • Floodplain hydrodynamics
  • SRTM
  • Flow connectivity
  • Pit removal
  • DEM adjustment


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