Airborne laser scanning for high-resolution mapping of Antarctica



In order to evaluate the potential of airborne laser scanning for topographic mapping in Antarctica and to establish calibration/validation sites for NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) altimeter mission, NASA, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) joined forces to collect high-resolution airborne laser scanning data.

In a two-week campaign during the 2001–2002 austral summer, NASA's Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) system was used to collect data over several sites in the McMurdo Sound area of Antarctica (Figure 1a). From the recorded signals, NASA computed laser points and The Ohio State University (OSU) completed the elaborate computation/verification of high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) in 2003. This article reports about the DEM generation and some exemplary results from scientists using the geomorphologic information from the DEMs during the 2003–2004 field season.