Urban Digital Elevation Modelling

Australia is vulnerable to the predicted impacts of climate change on the coast and there is a growing demand from decision-makers for better information to assess the risks from coastal inundation.  A key component is accurate, high-resolution elevation data - ie how far above sea level is a given point?

The then Dept of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency commissioned the Urban Digital Elevation Modelling in High Priority Regions (UDEM) project to map key areas which may be subject to inundation due to of storm surges.

The Project is managed by the CRCSI in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and ANZLIC as a keystone to the development of the Australian National Elevation Data Framework. Support is also provided by state and local agencies and some companies, and from the Inter-governmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping.

Work continues in the following areas.

  • Acquisition, processing and management of high resolution elevation data
  • 2010/11 National Data Audit of  elevation data and 2010 audit of coastal data
  • Design, implementation and management of data distribution portals to handle terabytes of data
  • Data and metadata standards
  • Research of elevation models and derived products

UDEM has acquired and conditioned elevation data for coastal analysis, developed a distribution portal and visualisation tool, and made coastal maps available.


1 Performance of DEM Generation Technologies in Coastal Environments
How well do different technology derived DEMs perform in a range of coastal environments?  What is the distribution of their respective vertical errors?

2 Integration of Multi-Resolution DEMs
What are the user needs for differing resolution DEMs and what is the optimal process for developing DEMs of differing resolutions?

This project produced a Demonstration software code which is available for download. Installation instructions are contained within the zip file and further information on the use of the code is contained in the main report.

DEM Integration Code

Vertical Datum Transformations across the littoral zone
What is the best method to integrate land-based DEMs with near-shore bathymetric DEMs ?

This project has developed a coarse vertical datum transformation (VDT) tool applicable to the Australian coast. The tool has been developed using currently available data.

The project has published a paper in the Journal of Coastal Research.

4 User requirements for bathymetric data collection and Bathymetry Acquisition Technologies and Strategies
How useful is the near shore DEM derived from bathymetric LiDAR to modellers and what are the alternatives for collection of near shore bathymetry to meet the defined needs?

The bathymetric LiDAR specifications provided below are currently under review by the ICSM Bathymetry Working Group.

The document is used as the technical requirements for contracting bathymetric LiDAR surveys in Australia.
Bathymetric LiDAR Acquisition Specifications

5 The usability of Hydro-DEMs for modelling coastal and floodplain inundations

When is additional processing such as Hydro-enforcement and Hydro-conditioning necessary for DEMs used to model floodplain and coastal inundations?

This synopsis summarises three research reports provided by Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) and Cardno. Request the supporting reports via email.

Nathan's Research

Mapping the Coastline - Nathan Quadros [1min]

web access

The National Elevation Data Framework Portal provides access to over 20,500 sq km of elevation data for key Australian regions.  The portal allows users to search, discover, view, licence and access elevation data. Licensing has been negotiated to ensure on-going access across all levels of government and public good use.

2100 sea level rise (SLR) scenarios have been mapped, showing inundation that could occur at least annually for each scenario. The scenario visualisations are available here.

Project Participants

ANZLIC   -   DIICCSRTE Cimate Change (previously DCCEE)   -   Geoscience Australia   -   and many state and local government agencies

43pl   AAM   -   Akuna Consulting   -   Fugro LADS   -   Fugro Spatial   -   Geomatic Technologies   -   NGIS   -   RPS Mapping   -   SKM