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Using QGIS profiler plugin to compare 2m resolution LiDAR vs SRTM

Dec 27, 2014

I have an idea to produce an elevation aware cycling route planner, and the first step in that is to have some elevation data in the form of a Digital Terrain Model.

The most commonly used freely available digital elevation data is that derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. At the latitude of Cornwall (about 50 degrees N) it has a resolution of about 73m x 73m per cell.

There is however a possibility of getting LiDAR data (free for non-commercial use) from the UK Environment Agency, which has various resolutions, and I obtained some 2m resolution data for an area around Truro.

For a cycling route planner, it would be nice to be able to keep track of the smaller bumps that would be smoothed out by the SRTM data. However it might not be practical to use the high resolution data because once one considers larger areas the volume of data becomes very large indeed.

There is also the Terrain 50m raster data available through the Ordnance Survey website.

I wished to see what difference it would make on a simple test circular route in Truro. I chose one which starts off climbing a hill, then goes along relatively flat terrain and then back down the hill again by a different route.

The QGIS screenshot below shows using the "Profile Tool" QGIS plugin, where the darker shade of green is the lower elevation terrain. You may need to click on the image to view it in a larger format.

The actual profile itself showing the elevation as a function of distance along the path is as follows:

SRTM = red, OS Terrain50 = black, 2m LiDAR = green
 I have had an issue with the QGIS Profile tool, in that I can't currently get it to work from a saved track, rather than 'live' by point and click each time, therefore the 2nd image above is a slightly different path.

Unfortunately the LiDAR has some wildly oscillating values, particularly around 400m from start where the road is in a cutting near the top of Chapel Hill. I have therefore done a moving average smoothing to make them more comparable.
Although the OS Terrain 50m is a higher resolution dataset, it appears to have more artifacts than the SRTM which is ~73m at this latitude

Measuring total ascent, counting the total height gain considering only positive values:
Not a big difference in total ascent between SRTM and Terrain 50. I also made an estimate by inspection of a 1:25k OS map of 55m ascent.

The total ascents were 52m, 55m, 60m, and 75m respectively for the smoothed LiDAR, SRTM, Terrain 50, and unsmoothed LiDAR respectively.

In the early part of the track, the SRTM (red line) appears to be seeing the treetops or roofs of buildings either side of Chapel Hill, but levels out at a lower peak than the full resolution LiDAR (yellow line). It appears than the LiDAR is overestimating due to proximity of artificial structures, or possibly even vehicles in a traffic jam on the A390. The smoothed LiDAR follows the SRTM fairly closely.

Improved version of Cornwall maps in Cornish

Dec 4, 2014

As I said in my previous post, there were some areas such as river estuaries showing land where which is actually water. 

Using layers from (ultimately from OpenStreetMap) I add inland water, rivers, woodland and parks (semitransparent overplot). 

Using data dependent properties in QGIS, vary plotting of label text dependent on type (e.g. town, village) as specific in the placename layer.

edit: The Cornish placenames themselves are the list in the Standard Written Form produced by the MAGA Signage Panel.

Scale of 1:200000 for the below pages printed at A4.

Some manual editing was necessary to ensure the Cornwall/Devon border conforms to the treaty of 936 between kings Athelstan and Huwel.

 Maps for A3 paper

A couple of extra links

Nov 26, 2014

A couple of extra links

A while ago I posted a links page. Here's a couple more that I saw recently.

The Geological Society has produced a 100-Great Geosites Interactive Map for UK and Ireland.

Also there is the Quaternary Research Society with their top 50 quaternary sites. 

Apparently the Giant's Rock in Porthleven floated there via an iceberg, possibly from Greenland.

An unusual application of a MaxEnt habitat suitability model

Nov 18, 2014

The MaxEnt software is often used by ecologists, and others for species habitat modeling based on environmental layers.

So some data I used from the 2011 UK census (England, Wales and Cornwall) was 1. those with a skill in the Welsh language (the full question was only asked of census respondents living in Wales) and 2. those self-describing as Cornish for national identity.

The data is converted from census output polygons, to dots randomly placed within the part of the output polygon below 300m altitude.

Although there is quite a lot of land above 300m in Wales, there is actually only one or two census output area polygons that entirely disappear when terrain above 300m is cut out. So if you're in Blaenavon, apologies for deleting you.

Using the environmental layers of elevation, slope (from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) and distance from the coast, this is the output:

Notice that the habitat suitability for Welsh speakers is actually higher in areas such as the North York Moors, and North Devon than Ynys Môn.

Habitat suitability drops off further than 60km from the coast

Altitudes of 200m-300m appear to be most suitable for Welsh speakers according to the observations of the census data.

The Welsh speakers are not suited to living on flat terrain.

A range of coastal areas are suitable for resettlement of the Cornish in the event of for example,  unexpected reactivation of the igneous activity of the Cornubian batholith.

A map of Cornwall in Cornish

Oct 28, 2014

The Cornish Language Partnership has a list of placenames in Cornwall in the Cornish language.

I have downloaded a shapefile with locations of places from which ultimately derives from OpenStreetMap. To this I have added the Cornish placenames, and plotted on a map in QGIS.

I still need to add in other features like rivers etc., and find something to make sure that estuaries like the Fal are shown as water rather than appearing to be dry land.

The colour scheme might look familiar if you remember the old Bartholomews 1:100k maps.

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