Evaluation of TanDEMx and SRTM DEM on watershed simulated runoff estimation

  • Chokkavarapu Nagaveni
  • K Pavan Kumar
  • Mandla Venkata RavibabuEmail author


In hydrological models, digital elevation models (DEMs) are being used to extract stream network and delineation of the watershed. DEMs represent elevation surfaces of earth landscape. Spatial resolution refers to the dimension of the cell size representing the area covered on the ground. Spatial resolution is the main parameter of a DEM. The grid cell size of raster DEM has significant effects on derived terrain variables such as slope, aspect, curvature, the wetness index, etc. Selection of appropriate spatial resolution DEM depends on other input data being used in the model, type of application and analysis that needs to be performed, the size of the database and response time. Each DEM contains inherent errors due to the method of acquisition and processing. The accuracy of each DEM varies with spatial resolution. The present paper deals with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurements (TanDEM DEMs) and compares their watershed delineation, slope, stream network and height with ground control points. It was found that the coarse resolution DEM-derived attributes and terrain morphological characteristics were strongly influenced by DEM accuracy. The objective of the present study is to investigate the impact of DEM resolution on topographic parameters and runoff estimation using TanDEM-12, TanDEM-30 and SRTM-90 m with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool. The analysis of the results using different DEM resolutions gave a varied number of sub-basins, Hydrological Response Units (HRUs) and watershed areas. The results were optimum at a specific threshold value as extraction of drainage network has a significant influence on simulated results. The accuracy of DEM is important, as the source of construction of DEM is the main factor causing uncertainty in the output. The results showed variable amounts of runoff at the watershed level, which may be attributed to varied stream lengths, minimum and maximum elevations and sub-basin areas.


Watershed hydrology DEM SWAT runoff TanDEMx SRTM 



The authors would like to thank DLR Germany for providing TanDEMx for research work (Project no. DEM_HYDR1630). Also, thanks to the CWC for providing the weather data from meteorological stations, runoff; the NRSC for providing stream network of 1:50,000 scale (WRIS); and the DES for providing ground control point location heights. Thanks to Dr Xuan Zhu (Monash University, Australia) and Dr Sainu Franco (Arba Minch University, Ethiopia) for language and technical correction of this paper. Thanks to anonymous reviewers for their critical reviews and constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chokkavarapu Nagaveni
    • 1
  • K Pavan Kumar
    • 2
  • Mandla Venkata Ravibabu
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management (CDMM)VIT UniversityVelloreIndia
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringVIT UniversityVelloreIndia
  3. 3.CGARD, School of Science, Technology and Knowledge SystemsNational Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of IndiaHyderabadIndia

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