Skip to main content

Africa Land Surface Forms

The land surface forms were identified using the method developed by the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (MoRAP). The MoRAP method is an automated land surface form classification based on Hammond's (1964a, 1964b) classification. MoRAP made modifications to Hammond's classification, which allowed finer-resolution elevation data to be used as input data and analyses to be made using 1 km2 moving window (True, 2002; True et al., 2000). While Hammond's methodology was based on three variables, slope, local relief, and profile type, MoRAP's methodology uses only slope and local relief (True, 2002). Slope is classified as gently sloping or not gently sloping using a threshold value of 8%. Local relief, the difference between the maximum and minimum elevation in a 1km2 neighborhood for analysis, is classified into five classes (0-15m, 16-30m, 31-90m, 91-150m, and >150m). Slope classes and relief classes were subsequently combined to produce eight land surface form classes (flat plains, smooth plains, irregular plains, escarpments, low hills, hills, breaks/foothills, and low mountains). In the implementation for the contiguous United States, Sayre et al. (2009) further refined the MoRAP methodology to identify a new land surface form class, "high mountains/deep canyons", by using an additional local relief class (>400 m). This method was implemented for Africa using a void-filled 90m SRTM elevation dataset which was created from the 30m SRTM elevation data provided by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In the preliminary output, which had nine land surface form classes (flat plains, smooth plains, irregular plains, escarpments, low hills, hills, breaks/foothills, and low mountains, and high mountains/deep canyons), artifacts were identified over flat desert areas affecting the classification between the two lowest relief classes, "flat plains" and "smooth plains." Since this problem was especially pronounced in areas where the input SRTM elevation data originally had data-voids, the problem could have been caused by anomalies or artifacts in the input data, which resulted from the void-filling processes. Instead of further investigating causes of the problem, the two land surface form classes were combined. In addition, the "low hills" class which had a very low occurrence was combined with the "hills" class. As a result, seven land surface form classes were identified in the final dataset (smooth plains, irregular plains, escarpments, hills, breaks/foothills, low mountains, and high mountains/deep canyons).

Originator: USGS Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center Publication_Date: 2009 Title: Africa Land Surface Forms Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: raster digital data Online_Linkage: <;


Select for mapping