Generation of Coastal Marsh Topography with Radar and Ground-Based Measurements


  • Elijah W. Ramsey, III
  • Gene A. Nelson
  • Stephen C. Laine
  • Robert G. Kirkman
  • Willie Topham


Micro elevation detection, flooding, remote sensing, surface gridding model, coastal marsh, wetland


A topographic surface of a low lying coastal marsh was created by using three flood extent vectors digitized from ERS-1 SAR images and two elevation contours from U.S. Geological Survey topographic quadrangles. Point measurement of water depth at the times of the SAR collections allowed conversion of the radar measured flood extent vectors to topographic contours. Generation of the topographic surface was accomplished with a surface gridding algorithm, SAR and on-site measures. Errors in the generated topography were mainly associated with the lack of input contours covering narrow to broad plateaus and topographic highs and lows. The misplacement of SAR derived flood extent vectors also caused errors in sparsely vegetated high marsh, at convoluted marsh-forest boundaries, and at topographic depressions. Overall, the standard deviation of differences between measured and predicted elevations at 747 points was 19 cm. Excluding the above mentioned abrupt boundaries and topographic highs and lows outside the range of available contours, standard deviation differences averaged about 14 cm, but most often averaged about 8 cm. This suggested a 5 to 9 factor improvement over the 150 cm topographic resolution currently available for this area.






Technical Communications