Elevation data is one of the most fascinating types of geospatial data. It represents many different types of data sources and formats. It can display properties of both vector and raster data resulting in unique data products. Elevation data can be used for terrain visualization, land cover classification, hydrology modeling, transportation routing, feature extraction, and many other purposes.
You can't perform all of these options with both raster and vector data but as elevation data is three-dimensional, containing x, y, and z coordinates, you can often get more out of this data than any other type.
In this chapter, you're going to learn to read and write elevation data in both raster and vector formats. We'll also create some derivative products. The topics that we'll cover are as follows:
Using ASCII Grid elevation data files
Creating shaded relief images
Creating elevation contours
Gridding LIDAR data
Creating a 3D mesh