Effects of terrain smoothing on topographic shielding correction factors for cosmogenic nuclide-derived estimates of basin-averaged denudation rates



Estimation of spatially averaged denudation rates from cosmogenic nuclide concentrations in sediments depends on the surface production rates, the scaling methods of cosmic ray intensities, and the correction algorithms for skyline, snow and vegetation shielding used to calculate terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide production. While the calculation of surface nuclide production and application of latitude, altitude and palaeointensity scaling algorithms are subjects of active research, the importance of additional correction for shielding by topographic obstructions, snow and vegetation is the subject of ongoing debate. The derivation of an additional correction factor for skyline shielding for large areas is still problematic. One important issue that has yet to be addressed is the effect of the accuracy and resolution of terrain representation by a digital elevation model (DEM) on topographic shielding correction factors. Topographic metrics scale with the resolution of the elevation data, and terrain smoothing has a potentially large effect on the correction of terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide production rates for skyline shielding. For rough, high-relief landscapes, the effect of terrain smoothing can easily exceed analytical errors, and should be taken into account. Here we demonstrate the effect of terrain smoothing on topographic shielding correction factors for various topographic settings, and introduce an empirical model for the estimation of topographic shielding factors based on landscape metrics. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.