A team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities has released four more years of high-resolution imagery data, added to eight years of previous data, to create the most detailed terrain maps of polar regions ever created. The maps use high-resolution satellite data to show the polar regions in stunning detail and will provide new insights into the effects of climate change over time.
The researchers partnered with Amazon Web Services to make the high-resolution image data publicly available in the cloud for free.
“Our previous data has resulted in more than 300 scientific publications,” said Claire Porter, acting co-director of the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. “With four more years of data even more accessible, these are transformative datasets. We’re excited to see what scientists will discover about how our Earth is changing.”
The project began with images taken from a constellation of satellites in polar orbit about 400-700 kilometers above Earth. Researchers at the Polar Geospatial Center created the digital elevation models based on 50-centimeter-resolution images taken by commercial satellites owned by Maxar and licensed by the National Geospatial Information Service.
Collaborators at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center developed the software to process the images, and University of Minnesota researchers put the maps together with computing resources from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that provided the Blue Waters supercomputer, an academic top class supercomputer. The researchers processed millions of images to create high-resolution topographic maps.
With the newer data set they were able to close all previous data gaps to provide complete coverage of entire polar regions north of 60⁰N (including most of Scandinavia, Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia) and south of 60⁰S ( including all of Antarctica). They also built a continent-wide seamless terrain map in Antarctica and plan to release an Arctic version this winter.
The polar regions are particularly important because the effects of climate change are amplified at the poles. Using these digital elevation models, scientists can see detailed topography of the earth, including individual trees, lakes, roads and buildings.
“In the past, researchers collected data using expensive airplanes or land surveys at limited times of the year. Now, we are measuring the Earth’s surface at a resolution and geographic scale that no one has ever seen before, and have been doing so for more than a decade.” Porter said.
“We were able to see glacial change, erosion, landslides and flooding—all in incredible detail over time,” added Porter. “This is a game changer for everyone trying to protect our planet for the future.”
Researchers publish the most accurate map of the Antarctic terrain
Provided by the University of Minnesota
Reference: High-res maps of entire polar regions provide new clues for climate researchers (2022, October 27) Retrieved October 27, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-high-res-entire-polar- regions- indications.html
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