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Title: Scan line void filling of airborne LiDAR point clouds for hydroflattening DEM
Authors: Yan, WY 
Issue Date: 2021
Source: IEEE journal of selected topics in applied earth observations and remote sensing, 2021, v. 14, 9456036, p. 6426-6437
Abstract: Generation of LiDAR-derived digital elevation model (DEM), particularly for hydrologic and shore environments, poses a continuous challenge. The presence of laser dropouts found on the water bodies causes data voids/holes in the airborne LiDAR data point clouds. Unnatural huge triangular artifacts may appear in these regions when a DEM is generated, resulting in not only unpleasant visual effect but also inaccurate terrain analyses. The United States Geological Survey has stressed the need of having a hydro-flattened DEM in the LiDAR Base Specification. Different forms of water bodies should be represented by a flat surface. Existing approaches mainly rely on the use of ancillary data or manual intervention during the hydroflattening process. In this study, an automatic data processing workflow is proposed to: 1) classify land and water data points collected by a topographic airborne LiDAR system based on the scan line intensity-elevation ratio; 2) perform scan line void filling of data points in close-to-nadir region and at both swath edges; 3) generate a virtual water surface based on the classified water data points; 4) perform hydroflattening on the DEM. The proposed workflow was examined using five datasets collected by topographic airborne LiDAR on the inland ponds and lakes, inland rivers, nontidal boundary water bodies, tidal water bodies, and islands, as addressed in the LiDAR Base Specification. The results showed that the proposed workflow can successfully generate hydroflattened DEMs and overcome the drawback of existing approaches.
Keywords: Airborne LiDAR
Hydroflattened digital elevation model (DEM)
Laser dropouts
Scan line intensity-elevation ratio (SLIER)
Void filling
Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Journal: IEEE journal of selected topics in applied earth observations and remote sensing 
ISSN: 1939-1404
EISSN: 2151-1535
DOI: 10.1109/JSTARS.2021.3089288
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. For more information, see
The following publication Yan, W. Y. (2021). Scan Line Void Filling of Airborne LiDAR Point Clouds for Hydroflattening DEM. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 14, 6426-6437 is available at
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