100 years after Scott

This week marks the 100 year anniversary of Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. I would imagine that you all know who Scott was and what happened on his final attempt to reach the South Pole before Amundsen, if you need a quick refresher then take a look at the excellent article on the BGS website.

Image courtesy of The Scott Polar Research Institute – Image Ref – P2005/5/1704

To mark this anniversary i thought i would compile a list of Antarctic related geospatial resources.  Any excuse to delve back into polar science.


  • Sharegeo – there are a couple of datasets of interest on Sharegeo such as the 2012 inventory of glaciers and a Global Permafrost map.
  • World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) – compiles the annual inventory of glacier mass balance and maintains a number of other ice related datasets. Not specifically Antarctica focused, but a good global resource.
  • RAMP – Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP) created a high-resolution DEM of Antarctica.  DEMs are available with a 1km, 400m or 200m cell posting and are provided as ARC/INFO and binary grids. The 1Km and 400m grids are also available in ASCII format. RAMP DEM was created and is hosted by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
  • GLIMS – The GLIMS glacier database is a searchable database of glacier information. GLIMS makes it easier to find out the physical attributes of glaciers around the world.
  • Community Ice Sheet Model – This project, run by the University of Montana, pulls together data that could be used to model the Antarctic ice sheet. It also supply’s code that allows you to run scenario models on the present ice sheet. Data is generally in grid (NetCDF) format.
  • NOAA – NOAA Paleoclimatology gateway provides access to ice core data for Antarctica.  Ice cores are available for a range of locations across the continent and there are some pre-processed comparissons of the asynchorny of Antarctica and Greenland.
  • ESF Research – ESF provides access to data such as global surface seawater dimethylsulfide, biological data (bacterial biomass, bacterial productivity, and UV irradiance data.

Data/Metadata Discovery Portals:

  • National Snow and Ice Data Center – NSIDC is a huge resource and i could spend hours sifting through data.  There is little point trying to list everything NSIDC hold, or make available but highlights include RAMP (see above), searchable database of glacier photos, MODIS imagery and the GLIMS glacier database.
  • Australian Antarctic Data Centre: a massive resource that contains satellite images, maps, ecology, biology and marine data.  Licence restrictions vary depending on the data type and source. In terms of getting your hands on the data itself, the best section to head to is the Data Navigator.  You need to register an account but this is free and takes 2 minutes.
    Some of the other data sources, such as the satellite data is not available to download directly from the AADC, the search facility gives you the metadata that should point you at the data custodian.  I would say that the site could usefully provide links to the data custodians but at least for satellite imagery they don’t appear to do so.
  • British Antarctic Survey (BAS) – BAS have a metadata discovery system which allows ou to explore their data spatially, temporarily and by category.  There are a few datasets in the discovery service but most are just the metadata.
  • SCAR Geoscience Map Catalogue – Jointly hosted with BAS, the SCAR Geoscience metadata catalogue provides a pretty extensive listing of maps of Antarctica.  No preview of the the sheet is provided so this is really a starting point for maps searches as you at least find out what is available, when it was created and at what scale.
  • AMRC & AWS – hosted and maintained by the University of Wisconsin – Madison, this portal contains the latest meteorological and atmospheric observations as well as a selection of satellite images of Antarctica.
  • Cool Antarctica – a fairly comprehensive source of climate data for Antarctica. This site is run by an enthusiastic ex-BAS employee

The list is not exhaustive and I will have to leave it there for this week. I will keep adding to this list, if you find any relevant resources please feel free to add a comment pointing to the resource and i will add it o the list.


Image generated using http://kartograph.org/showcase/projections/#stereo

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