Home > Explore Data & Reports > Statistical correction of lidar-derived digital elevation models with multispectral airborne imagery in tidal marshes


Buffington, K.J., B.D. Duggera, K.M. Thorneb, and J.Y. Takekawa. 2016. Statistical correction of lidar-derived digital elevation models with multispectral airborne imagery in tidal marshes. Remote Sensing of Environment, 186:616-625. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2016.09.020

Data/Report Type:

Sponsored Research


Airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) is a valuable tool for collecting large amounts of elevation data across large areas; however, the limited ability to penetrate dense vegetation with lidar hinders its usefulness for measuring tidal marsh platforms. Methods to correct lidar elevation data are available, but a reliable method that requires limited field work and maintains spatial resolution is lacking. We present a novel method, the Lidar Elevation Adjustment with NDVI (LEAN), to correct lidar digital elevation models (DEMs) with vegetation indices from readily available multispectral airborne imagery (NAIP) and RTK-GPS surveys. Using 17 study sites along the Pacific coast of the U.S., we achieved an average root mean squared error (RMSE) of 0.072 m, with a 40–75% improvement in accuracy from the lidar bare earth DEM. Results from our method compared favorably with results from three other methods (minimum-bin gridding, mean error correction, and vegetation correction factors), and a power analysis applying our extensive RTK-GPS dataset showed that on average 118 points were necessary to calibrate a site-specific correction model for tidal marshes along the Pacific coast. By using available imagery and with minimal field surveys, we showed that lidar-derived DEMs can be adjusted for greater accuracy while maintaining high (1 m) resolution.

Note to readers with disabilities: Some scientific publications linked from this website may not conform to Section 508 accessibility standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing this electronic content, please contact the lead/corresponding author, Primary Contact, or nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov.

Explore Similar Data/Reports


NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter or view our archives.

Follow us on Social

Listen to our Podcast

Check our our new podcast "Coastal Conversations"