The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XXXIX-B4
31 Jul 2012
 | 31 Jul 2012


D. J. Meyer, T. Tachikawa, M. Abrams, R. Crippen, T. Krieger, D. Gesch, and C. Carabajal

Keywords: ASTER, Global Digital Elevation Model, Accuracy, DEM/DTM, Comparison, Geodesy, Global-Environmental- Databases, Land Cover, Mapping, Satellite

Abstract. On October 17, 2011, NASA and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan released the second version of the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) to users worldwide at no charge as a contribution to the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). The first version of the ASTER GDEM, released on June 29, 2009, was compiled from over 1.2 million scene-based DEMs covering land surfaces between 83°N and 83°S latitudes. The second version (GDEM2) incorporates 260,000 additional scenes to improve coverage, a smaller correlation kernel to yield higher spatial resolution, and improved water masking.

As with GDEM1, US and Japanese partners collaborated to validate GDEM2. Its absolute accuracy was within -0.20 meters on average when compared against 18,000 geodetic control points over the conterminous US (CONUS), with an accuracy of 17 meters at the 95% confidence level. The Japan study noted the GDEM2 differed from the 10-meter national elevation grid by -0.7 meters over bare areas, and by 7.4 meters over forested areas. The CONUS study noted a similar result, with the GDEM2 determined to be about 8 meters above the 1 arc-second US National Elevation Database (NED) over most forested areas, and more than a meter below NED over bare areas. A global ICESat study found the GDEM2 to be on average within 3 meters of altimeter-derived control. The Japan study noted a horizontal displacement of 0.23 pixels in GDEM2. A study from the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency also determined horizontal displacement and vertical accuracy as compared to the 1 arc-second Shuttle Radar Topography Mission DEM. US and Japanese studies estimated the horizontal resolution of the GDEM2 to be between 71 and 82 meters. Finally, the number of voids and artifacts noted in GDEM1 were substantially reduced in GDEM2.