You have undoubtly heard that one of the consequences of climate change is melting of the polar ice-caps, which will cause the sea level to rise globally, bringing the risk of flooding to all coastal areas.
Scientists predict between 3 to 5 feet of sea-level rise in the next century [IPCC 2007 report]. This is a concern as many major cities lie in low areas in close proximity to the coast, and flooding will cause significant damage and disruptions to these cities and to the millions of people who live in them.
States and institutions have started to model the extent and impact of the flooding. The first step in this process is to use digital elevation models to compute what parts of the coast will get underwater in different flooding scenarios. When run on high-resolution digital elevation models derived form LiDAR point clouds, the accuracy of these models at predicting the extent of sea level rise flooding is high.
Most widely used are the SLR viewers developed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which can be accessed from their Digital coast website:
Note how you can select the SLR scenario (1ft, 2ft, 3ft,...). The flooding is not done in real time; it is pre-computed at these magnitudes, and it is visualized.
I could not find a link to documentation, but there's a chance that they use 1m or 2m resolution LiDAR data (or perhaps 10m data, which is freely available for the entire US).
This earlier project (2010) only shows flooding for the coast of MI, AL and FL.
Again, you can select one of six flooding scenarios (1ft, 2ft, 3ft, 4ft, 5ft, 6ft). The flooding for each scenario is pre-computed, and is visualized overlayed on the map when the user selects it.
Documentation for this project can be found here. A paper that details it: New mapping tool and techniques for vizualizing sea level rise and coastal flooding impacts [NOAA, 2011].
I remember reading that this model is based on 10m-resolution data [would be nice to find a reference]. Grid DEMs at 10m resolution are freely available for the entire US from USGS website, based on data collected by NASA SRTM in 2001.
Below are screenshots of flooding Southport Island (Maine) with 3ft SLR, and 6ft SLR. I picked this island because we have a 2m DEM for it [thanks to Eileen Johnson, ES], so you'll be able to use it to test your flooding against the images below.
SLR flood modeling using 10m resolution DEMs based on SRTM data is not ideal because of accuracy issues (both horizontal and vertical). LiDAR data has high accuracy, which makes it the top choice for modeling. However LiDAR data coverage is not complete. It is certainly not widely available, though some states, and especially the flood-prone states, have started to collect it.
Modeling flooding with LiDAR data brings the challenge of performance because of its huge size: a 2m-resolution DEM for a small part of the coast may consist of several billion points. Building such a huge DEM from lidar point cloud is an issue, and often exceeds the capabilities of software. Building 1m- or 2m-DEMs for an entire state requires may require hundreds of billions of points.
Sea-level rise viewers based on 2m-resolution LiDAR data, therefore improving on the NOAA SLR viewers above, are becoming available, on state-by-state basis.
How does this work? One way to think about this is to intersect the terrain with a horizontal plane at z=sea-level: that is, find all points with elev <= slr. This will create a bunch of "blobs": compute their connected components, and retain only the connected component of the sea. This is the approach taken by NOAA SLR viewer (Detailed method for mapping sea level rise innundation, NOAA, 2017).
In this project you will develop a different and arguably simpler approach, based on the following idea. As the sea level is rising, points on the coast that are low (i.e. their elevation is below sea-level) will get underwater, and through them, the water may go further inland. In other words, points that
One question that you'll run into is: how is the water labeled in the elevation grid? In an ideal world the sea points would have their own label, so that we can easily say if a point is in the sea or not. In practice water gets labeled as NODATA. The caveat is that not all NODATA points are water, so we'll have to make some assumptions:
./slrflood elev.asc 3 flooded.ascWe shoud be able to render the resulting grid:
render2d flooded.ascThe rest is open-ended. Here are some possibilities.
The larger sets are not available online; you can find them at: dover::/mnt/research/gis/DATA/SLR/.
Would be great to also flood Boothbay Harbor: I only have .las data for it, but we could use your lidar project to classify the ground and grid it (you'll need to add the save capability, but you have a writetofile() function from a previous project). Or, you could use LASTools::las2dem [this may not be open source, but binaries are available].
Write a paper/report that summarizes the work that you did for this project. Do not worry about writing a certain number of pages, but rather that you include sufficient information so that someone who reads the paper can understand all the work that you've done for this project, the high level algorithm, the details of the implementation, and an overview of how you tested it and how it works in practice.
You will use LaTex. If this is the first time you use LaTex, check the www for more info. Feel free to use the Latex templates here (at http://www.bowdoin.edu/~ltoma/teaching/LatexTemplate/ ); they were created for previous classes, so disregard the details. To install Latex on your computer, you could try MacTex: http://tug.org/mactex/
There are many LaTex guides online, if you should need anything beyond the template. Here is a suggested outline for the paper: