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Digital Terrain Model

  • By: Zhilin Li
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Terrain models have always appealed to military personnel, planners, landscape architects, and civil engineers, as well as other experts in various Earth sciences. Originally, terrain models were physical models, made of rubber, plastic, clay, sand, and so on. Today, terrain models are represented in digital form, leading to the terminology digital terrain model (DTM). In this entry, first the basic concepts are introduced; next, the methodology for generating digital terrain models is described; and finally, the analysis and application of such a model are outlined.

Basic Concepts

A DTM is a digital representation of the terrain topography. The term was coined by Miller and Laflame of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1958. Their original definition was simply a statistical representation of the continuous surface of ...

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