Digital terrain modelling: A review of hydrological, geomorphological, and biological applications



The topography of a catchment has a major impact on the hydrological, geomorphological, and biological processes active in the landscape. The spatial distribution of topographic attributes can often be used as an indirect measure of the spatial variability of these processes and allows them to be mapped using relatively simple techniques. Many geographic information systems are being developed that store topographic information as the primary data for analysing water resource and biological problems. Furthermore, topography can be used to develop more physically realistic structures for hydrologic and water quality models that directly account for the impact of topography on the hydrology. Digital elevation models are the primary data used in the analysis of catchment topography. We describe elevation data sources, digital elevation model structures, and the analysis of digital elevation data for hydrological, geomorphological, and biological applications. Some hydrologic models that make use of digital representations of topography are also considered.