An optimization technique for addressing DEM misregistration in hilly terrain

WenWen Li, Michael Goodchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Digital elevation models (DEMs) represent the Earth’s topography and support a variety of applications, ranging from extracting watershed drainage structure to measuring glacier volume. Applications that require conflation of multiple DEMs are problematic, however, because of misregistration. We explore a spatial optimization technique to quantify the misregistration on the pixel level between NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation data set and the USGS’s National Elevation Dataset (NED). The misregistration, estimated within blocks by horizontal offset and direction, is modelled spatially in terms of typical topographical parameters: slope, aspect and elevation. A Nelder–Mead algorithm was implemented to compute the local shift at two study sites in the San Gabriel Mountains (SGM) and Santa Monica Mountains (SMM) in Los Angeles County, California. The magnitude of misregistration is generally less than the distance between DEM postings, and varies by terrain type, being larger in steeper terrains; nevertheless, misregistration is systematic within these continuous terrains that have similar topographical features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of GIS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • Nelder–Mead algorithm
  • Spatial optimization
  • accuracy assessment
  • digital elevation model
  • registration
  • spatial modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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