Called the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA), a new 8-meter resolution digital elevation model covering 98% of the continent of Antarctica has been released. The release of this DEM provides access to much higher detailed maps of Antarctica’s terrain.
The project to develop this database was led by Ian Howat (Ohio State University) and Paul Morin (University of Minnesota). The team developed open source Surface Extraction from TIN-based Searchspace Minimization (SETSM) software in order to apply automated stereo auto-correlation techniques. Using this methodology, researchers developed Phase 1 of REMA by extracting information from 187,585 satellite images to produce the first high-resolution terrain map of Antarctica:
REMA is constructed from hundreds of thousands of individual stereoscopic Digital Elevation Models (DEM) extracted from pairs of submeter (0.32 to 0.5 m) resolution DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, including data from WorldView-1, WorldView-2, and WorldView-3, and a small number from GeoEye-1, acquired between 2009 and 2017, with most collected in 2015 and 2016, over the austral summer seasons (mostly December to March).
Each individual DEM was vertically registered to satellite altimetry measurements from Cryosat-2 and ICESat, resulting in absolute uncertainties of less than 1 m over most of its area, and relative uncertainties of decimeters
The resulting high-resolution data will allow researchers access to better information needed to monitor changes in ice levels and other changes on the surface of Antarctica.
REMA is available for download as mosaic tiles (8 meter posting for most areas, 2 meter posting for rock outcrops and other areas of interest) and 2 meter posting strips. GIS data in the form of shapefiles provides an index file for identifying strips segments.
- REMA information page
- Download the GIS data directory from the Polar Geospatial Center Data Repository
- If you want to browse the DEM, the REMA Hillshade Viewer provides online access.