Surface Roughness

  • Carlos H. GrohmannEmail author
  • Henrik Hargitai
Living reference work entry


Surface roughness describes elevation variations over a particular scale.


The kilometer-scale surface roughness can be characterized using slope-frequency distribution statistics. Radar reflection scatter is often parameterized with root-mean-square (RMS) of slopes (Aharonson et al. 1998), but for laser altimeter datasets (e.g., MOLA), the simplest rank statistics, the median absolute value of slope (median slope), provides better characterization of typical surface slopes at baselines from 0.4 to 25 km (Kreslavsky and Head 1999).

Surface roughness can also be estimated using radar techniques at the baselines of the order of several to dozens of the wavelength (10 cm to 10 m) as the radar backscatter coefficient is primarily a function of surface roughness at a scale comparable to the radar wavelength (Simpson et al. 1992; Blumberg and Greeley 1994) (Radar Feature).

Calculations of surface roughness using Digital Elevation Models are usually performed with a...


Surface Roughness Digital Elevation Model Radar Reflection Backscatter Coefficient Laser Altimeter 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Energy and EnvironmentUniversity of São Paulo, BrazilSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Planetary Science Research Group, Institute of Geography and Earth SciencesEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary