Spectral filtering as a method of visualising and removing striped artefacts in digital elevation data

Katherine Arrell, Steve Wise, Jo Wood, Danny Donoghue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Spectral filtering was compared with traditional mean spatial filters to assess their ability to identify and remove striped artefacts in digital elevation data. The techniques were applied to two datasets: a 100 m contour derived digital elevation model (DEM) of southern Norway and a 2 m LiDAR DSM of the Lake District, UK. Both datasets contained diagonal data artefacts that were found to propagate into subsequent terrain analysis. Spectral filtering used fast Fourier transformation (FFT) frequency data to identify these data artefacts in both datasets. These were removed from the data by applying a cut filter, prior to the inverse transform. Spectral filtering showed considerable advantages over mean spatial filters, when both the absolute and spatial distribution of elevation changes made were examined. Elevation changes from the spectral filtering were restricted to frequencies removed by the cut filter, were small in magnitude and consequently avoided any global smoothing. Spectral filtering was found to avoid the smoothing of kernel based data editing, and provided a more informative measure of data artefacts present in the FFT frequency domain. Artefacts were found to be heterogeneous through the surfaces, a result of their strong correlations with spatially autocorrelated variables: landcover and landsurface geometry. Spectral filtering performed better on the 100 m DEM, where signal and artefact were clearly distinguishable in the frequency data. Spectrally filtered digital elevation datasets were found to provide a superior and more precise representation of the landsurface and be a more appropriate dataset for any subsequent geomorphological applications. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-961
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Cite this