Field Validation of DEM- and GIS-Derived Longitudinal Stream Profiles


Longitudinal stream profiles provide valuable information concerning geomorphic features and energy states in a stream. Traditionally, stream profiles have been generated by field surveying or topographic map analysis. The continued growth of digital data and Geographic Information Systems (GISs) provide another method by which to achieve stream profile generation. This work examines the effectiveness of digital data, digital elevation models (DEM), and GIS to construct stream profiles. To determine the most effective and accurate data for profile generation, profiles were created using 1-meter (1-m) and 3-meter (3-m) DEMs developed from LiDAR data. Additionally, stream profiles were created from unfilled DEMs and filled DEMs to determine the need to correct potential errors in the DEMs. Thirty-three stream longitudinal profiles were created using GIS, with six segments verified by field surveys. Filled DEMs were found to remove actual features; thus, the filled DEMs were used in subsequent analyses. No significant differences between profiles generated from 1-m and 3-m were observed. Stream profiles constructed from unfilled, 3-m DEMs were similar to profiles generated from field surveyed data, although elevation differences were noted.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type





DEM resolution, karst, driftless area, LIDAR

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal Earth Science Research