Further reading links to supplement your studies.
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- Way (1973, 1978) provides a classical description of terrain analysis with air photos and topographic maps. The principles still apply, and will help your understanding of digital geospatial data.
Way, D.S. (1973) Terrain Analysis: A Guide to Site Selection Using Aerial Photographic Interpretation. Dowden Hutchinson & Ross.
Way, D.S. (1978) Terrain Analysis. New York: McGraw Hill.
- The US Army (1990) Field Manual is out of date, but provides an understanding of how militaries use terrain analysis and the combination of field work and map analysis that can help guide planning and decision making. A Google search for FM 5-33 turns up several places to download a PDF, but no official government web sites.
US Army (1990) Terrain Analysis: Field Manual. FM5-33.
- The papers in Maune (2007) summarize the uses and properties of gridded DEMs. Since most terrain analysis currently uses DEMs, this book provides the best starting place to understand the data and its limitations. Chapter 8 briefly discusses user applications in flood insurance, wetlands, forestry, utility corridors, coastal management, transportation, disaster, and military operations.
Maune, D.F. (ed.) (2007) Digital Elevation Model Technologies and Applications: The DEM Users Manual. Bethesda: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
- The papers in Renslow (2012) cover topographic lidar, including data collection, processing, and applications of the data. As usage proliferates of very large scale DEMs from lidar, and the point clouds themselves, this topic becomes vital. Look for a second edition, as the field explodes in popularity. Chapter 10, with 24 authors, discusses applications in forestry, corridor mapping, flood mapping, building extraction and reconstruction, airport surveys, coastal and hydrological monitoring, and natural hazards.
Renslow, M.S. (2012) Manual of Airborne Topographic Lidar. Bethesda: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
- The papers in Hengl and Reuter (2009) provide an introduction to geomorphometry, descriptions of 8 software packages. Section 3 has 10 chapters covering applications on mapping soils, vegetation, mass movements and landslides, ecology, hydrological modelling, meteorology, and precision agriculture.
Hengl, T. and Reuter, H.I. (eds) (2009) Geomorphometry: Concepts, Software, Applications. Developments in Soil Science Series. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- The papers in Smith et al. (2011) discuss geomorphological mapping. Chapter 8 by Smith covers the visualization, interpretation, and quantification of landforms.
Smith, M., Paron, P. and Griffiths, J.S (eds) (2011) Geomorphological Mapping: Methods and Applications. Developments in Earth Surface Processes. London: Elsevier.
- Florinsky (2012) discusses digital terrain analysis in soil science and geology. His LandLord software is only available for researchers doing collaborative research.
Florinsky, I.V. (2012) Digital Terrain Analysis in Soil Science and Geology. London: Elsevier
Suggested terrain analysis programs (free except for ArcGIS):
- ESRI ArcGIS: the commercial gold standard for GIS.
- qGIS with GRASS and qGIS provides a Graphical User Interface to work with GRASS.
- MICRODEM: listed last since I might not be the most impartial judge of its capabilities.
Additional free data for terrain analysis:
- Satellite imagery, Landsat 8 has global coverage with 30 m resolution
- Land cover showing several dozen categories at scales from 30 m (US) to 1 km (global), and can show changes over time
- Vector roads and other cultural data, from OpenStreetMap
- Night lights, which show population density
- Koppen Climate classification
The help file for MICRODEM has descriptions of these data sets and download instructions