Date of Award

Fall 2013

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Russel G Congalton


Accuracy of Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping (ALTM) elevations is not well known on steeply sloping terrain. A unique method was used whereby, the planimetric location of ALTM ground strikes were located in the field and reference elevations measured at these points. Survey-grade Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and rigorous techniques accurately established vertical heights to 0.010 meters, Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE). Sampled slopes range from 0.5 degrees to 50.6 degrees. A positive quadratic relationship exists between slope and vertical error. Error is negligible on slopes less than twenty degrees. Incidence angle, footprint size, and elevation spread from the upper reach of the footprint to the lower reach for each laser strike were also determined. An increase in each results in an increase in ALTM elevation imprecision. Elevation spread within the footprint and horizontal error could account for high percentages of vertical error on steeper slopes.