The global topography mission gains momentum



An accurate description of the surface elevation of the Earth is of fundamental importance to many branches of Earth science. Continental topographic data are required for studies of hydrology, ecology, glaciology, geomorphology, and atmospheric circulation. For example, in hydrologic and terrestrial ecosystem studies, topography exerts significant control on intercepted solar radiation, water runoff and subsurface water inventory, microclimate, vegetation type and distribution, and soil development. The topography of the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers directly reflects ice-flow dynamics and is closely linked to global climate and sea level change.