AbstractThe objective of this study was to identify and quantify surface depressions on grass-covered land surfaces using a high-resolution terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) point cloud, and a triangulated irregular network (TIN). The entire grassy land surface in the study area was divided into five subwatersheds of different topographic attributes (i.e., depression depth and surface slope). Surface depressions were identified and quantified using a TIN generated from a high-resolution TLS point cloud. The results indicated that microtopography of the grassy land surface was well-characterized within each subwatershed in comparison with field observations. With the terrestrial light detection and ranging (LIDAR) point cloud of 15-mm point spacing and the TIN method, surface depression storage depths of the five subwatersheds ranged from 1.73 to 14.28 mm in the study area. The surface depression storage depth, as expected, increased with the maximum depth of surface depression. It was also found to increase when the land surface slope became milder. A sensitivity analysis indicated that a point cloud with a point spacing of 30 mm was sufficient to obtain an accurate representation of the terrain surface in the study area. This study also indicated the TIN method can represent the ground surface and the surface depression more realistically than the commonly used digital elevation model (DEM) method due to the TIN method’s higher capability of identifying and filtering out surface obstructions such as blades of grass. Moreover, by using the high-resolution TLS technology and the TIN method, our study provides an important and broad range of reference data on the surface depression storage depth commonly needed in application of the Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) and other watershed models.