Parallel Generation of Very High Resolution Digital Elevation Models: High-Performance Computing for Big Spatial Data Analysis

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Very high resolution digital elevation models (DEM) provide the opportunity to represent the micro-level detail of topographic surfaces, thus increasing the accuracy of the applications that are depending on the topographic data. The analyses of micro-level topographic surfaces are particularly important for a series of geospatially related engineering applications. However, the generation of very high resolution DEM using, for example, LiDAR data is often extremely computationally demanding because of the large volume of data involved. Thus, we use a high-performance and parallel computing approach to resolve this big data-related computational challenge facing the generation of very high resolution DEMs from LiDAR data. This parallel computing approach allows us to generate a fine-resolution DEM from LiDAR data efficiently. We applied this parallel computing approach to derive the DEM in our study area, a bottomland hardwood wetland located in the USDA Forest Service Santee Experimental Forest. Our study demonstrated the feasibility and acceleration performance of the parallel interpolation approach for tackling the big data challenge associated with the generation of very high resolution DEM.

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