Assessing the influence of DEM source on derived streamline and catchment boundary accuracy

Mashimbye, Zama Eric ; De Clercq, Willem Petrus ; Van Niekerk, Adriaan (2019)

CITATION: Mashimbye, Z. E., De Clercq, W. P. & Van Niekerk, A. 2019. Assessing the influence of DEM source on derived streamline and catchment boundary accuracy. Water SA, 45(4):672-684, doi:10.17159/wsa/2019.v45.i4.7549.

The original publication is available at


Accurate DEM-derived streamlines and catchment boundaries are essential for hydrological modelling. Due to the popularity of hydrological parameters derived mainly from free DEMs, it is essential to investigate the accuracy of these parameters. This study compared the spatial accuracy of streamlines and catchment boundaries derived from available digital elevation models in South Africa. Two versions of Stellenbosch University DEMs (SUDEM5 and DEMSA2), the second version of the 30 m advanced spaceborne thermal emission and reflection radiometer global digital elevation model (ASTER GDEM2), the 30 and 90 m shuttle radar topography mission (SRTM30 and SRTM90 DEM), and the 90 m Water Research Commission DEM (WRC DEM) were considered. As a reference, a 1 m GEOEYE DEM was generated from GeoEye stereo images. Catchment boundaries and streamlines were extracted from the DEMs using the Arc Hydro module. A reference catchment boundary was generated from the GEOEYE DEM and verified during field visits. Reference streamlines were digitised at a scale of 1:10 000 from the 1 m orthorectified GeoEye images. Visual inspection, as well as quantitative measures such as correctness index, mean absolute error, root mean squares error and figure of merit index were used to validate the results. The study affirmed that high resolution (<30 m) DEMs produce more accurate parameters and that DEM source and resampling techniques also play a role. However, if high resolution DEMs are not available, the 30 m SRTM DEM is recommended as its vertical accuracy was relatively high and the quality of the streamlines and catchment boundary was good. In addition, it was found that the novel Euclidean distance-based MAE and RMSE proposed in this study to compare reference and DEM-extracted raster datasets of different resolutions is a more reliable indicator of geometrical accuracy than the correctness and figure of merit indices.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL:
This item appears in the following collections: