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Spheroidal equal angular DEMs: The specificity of morphometric treatment

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Digital elevation models (DEMs) are commonly constructed using two main types of regular grids: plane square grids and spheroidal equal angular grids. Methods and algorithms intended for plane square‐gridded DEMs should not be directly applied to spheroidal equal angular DEMs. This is because these grids have fundamentally different geometry. However, some researchers continue to apply square‐grid algorithms to spheroidal equal angular DEMs. It seems appropriate to consider once again the specifity of morphometric treatment of spheroidal equal angular DEMs. This article, first, demonstrates possibilities of direct calculation of local, nonlocal, and combined morphometric variables from spheroidal equal angular DEMs exemplified by slope gradient, catchment area, and topographic index. Second, the article shows computational errors when algorithms for plane square‐gridded DEMs are unreasonably applied to spheroidal equal angular DEMs. The study is exemplified by two DEMs. A medium‐resolution DEM of a relatively small, high‐mountainous area (Mount Elbrus) was extracted from the SRTM1 DEM. A low‐resolution DEM of a vast region with the diverse topography (the central and western regions of Kenya) was extracted from the SRTM30_PLUS DEM. The results show that application of square‐grid methods to spheroidal equal angular DEMs leads to substantial computational errors in models of morphometric variables.