Increased asymmetry of pit-over-peak statistics with landscape smoothing

Shashank Kumar Anand, Amilcare Porporato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The local extremes (i.e., peaks and pits) of the landscape-elevation field play a critical role in the energy, water, and nutrient distribution of a region, but their statistical distributions in relation to landscape evolution have received limited research attention. In this work, we first explain how the spatial correlation structure of the elevation field affects the counts and frequency distributions of local extremes. We then analyze local extremes statistics for eight mountainous landscapes worldwide with diverse hydroclimatic forcings and geologic histories using 24 digital elevation models and compare them with complex terrain of the Erythraeum Chaos region on Mars. The results reveal that the spherical covariance structure captures the observed spatial correlation in these cases, with the peak frequency distribution agreeing well with the elevation frequency distribution. The ratio of the pit-over-peak (POP) count is linked to the degree to which the pit and peak frequency distributions match, and carries the mark of landscape aging. The relationship between the geomorphic development stage (quantified by the reduced fatness of the slope-distribution tail) and the deviation of POP values from unity in old mountainous landscapes confirms that the evolution towards smoother topographies is atypically accompanied by reduced pit counts distinctive of organized valley and ridge patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-307
Number of pages10
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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