High-Resolution Elevation Data Released for Alaska

The White House
The White House

A new digital elevation model of Alaska was released earlier this monthThe result of a presidential directive to improve elevation maps of Alaska as a tool “to help to help communities understand and manage” the risks of climate change, the ArcticDEM project is a collaboration between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Minnesota, among others. The unclassified data gives two-metre (or better) resolution across the state. Lower-resolution DEMs for the entire Arctic will follow next year.

Digital elevation data for Alaska had previously been poor; the National Geographic article leads with the point that Mars has better topographic maps than Alaska does. Most digital elevation data is collected by airplane—an impractical method in the far north; the ArcticDEM is based on stereo imagery from DigitalGlobe satellites. (As a comparison, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission’s DEM resolution is 30 metres for the U.S., 90 metres elsewhere.)

ArcticDEM data is available on the ArcticDEM Explorer page and on the NGA’s Arctic Support 2016 page.

After the cut, a comparison of digital elevation models pre- and post-ArcticDEM, using Anchorage, Alaska.

 

Yes, those are airplanes on the runway.

[Alex Chaucer/Map Dragons/National Geographic/The National Map]

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.