Exciting news from the Arctic! Version 2 of the Arctic DEM has been released. Topographic elevation of the Arctic can now be viewed and analyzed like never before. This release extends the detailed 2 meter Alaska elevation data with additional 2m data for Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, as well as preliminary 8 meter data for the entire Arctic. Additional detailed 2 meter elevation data will be released in quarterly installments over 2017 until the arctic data is complete. This is the result of a partnership between Esri, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota.
In September 2016, the US at the White House hosted an Arctic Ministerial meeting, with over 20 countries represented, where this data was showcased and new commitments on data provisions were sought. The goal of the meeting and the new data is to help people better understand, adapt to, and address the changing conditions in the Arctic.
The four key themes include:
- Understanding Arctic-Science Challenges and their Regional and Global Implications.
- Strengthening and Integrating Arctic Observations and Data Sharing.
- Applying Expanded Scientific Understanding of the Arctic to Build Regional Resilience and Shape Global Responses.
- Using Arctic Science as a Vehicle for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education and Citizen Empowerment.
To access the data, start with the NGA Arctic Support story map here and spend time on the ‘Arctic Digital Elevation Model (ArcticDEM) ’ tab. The embedded apps provide interactive access to the elevation. The data is described in an article here from Medium.com and an article from National Geographic here. This story map illustrates the visualizations that can be generated with the click of the mouse for any user selected area, and a swipe story map explains the background on Digital Elevation Models and compares the new elevation data to the older elevation data by providing the ability to swipe between the maps. The DEMs have been computed from high resolution stereo Digital Globe satellite imagery.
The DEM Explorer is a web app that allows the data user to zoom to any area and review different visualizations such as hillshade, slope, aspect, contours. As the data is temporal in many areas, users can see how the data is changing over time and summarize elevation change for a selected areas. The Change Viewer is a simpler app that allows a user to click a point and graphically view the historical elevation of that location. Access to these services is also available in a wide range of applications through the Arctic DEM Group in ArcGIS Online. Most of the apps use the polar projections to reduce distortions which would become severe in generic mapping applications. Finally, a video tour of the story map highlights many of the above products and services.
The actual data are available–not just press releases, and the data will be of great benefit for anyone doing research in the Arctic, as the map below should make very clear.
Alaska DEMs showing the heretofore available data (left) and the new data (right).
A few years ago we wrote about the geospatial data available from the Global Forest Watch from WRI. Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a dynamic forest monitoring system that provides aims to provide “timely and reliable” information about the state of the world’s forests. Using a combination of satellite imagery, open access data, and crowd sourced information, GFW builds on earlier projects such as the Forest Frontiers Initiative and the Forest Atlases. These are included in the case studies that we highlighted in our book, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, which promotes the sustainable management of forest resources.
One way to access the geospatial data available from GFW is to access the interactive map, select the layers you are interested in, and download them (shown below). The layers are organized into broad categories such as forest change, land cover, land use, conservation, and people, but the interface is easy to navigate. Besides the Graphical User Interface improvements since our first review of the site, many of the GFW layers can now be streamed via ArcGIS Online. To access the layers in this way, use the Open Data Portal and you will see the option for featured data sets or all data. At the time of this writing, 107 layers were available, many of which can be opened directly in ArcGIS Online. API links to GeoJSON URLs are also provided.
I did find a few data links, such as mining, that point to “not found” – but by and large, the site is wonderfully functional and has nicely expanded its capabilities since we first reviewed it. We would be interested in your feedback in the comments section, below.
The DataPortals.org site, hosted by the Open Knowledge International organisation in conjunction with the LOD2 project, provides a comprehensive repository of over 500 open data portals. The registered portals, published by local, regional and national governments, international organisations and a number of Non Government Organisations (NGOs), provide access to a variety of spatial data sources including administrative boundaries, land use, economic activity and environmental indicators.
All data sets referenced by the DataPortals catalogue, including those that form part of a database collection, are published under the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication & Licence. The data sets are available to download in a variety of formats including .xls, JSON/GEOJSON and shapefile.
After three months in beta, the European Data Portal has been launched. The portal is set to replace the publicdata.eu site and hosts over 400,000 datasets in a variety of formats including shape, csv, xls and ogc:wms. For the spatial datasets, the site provides a dataset extent visualisation and filter by location option, against a basemap of OpenStreetMap data.
The portal also provides a metadata quality assessment section, with reports on a variety of metrics including popular formats and the top source data catalogs.
One of the innovative inclusions in the new site is the accompanying training companion and e-learning programme, with sessions covering licensing, platforms, formats, linked data and data quality. The European Commission and partners involved in the development of the site have recognised that it’s no longer just about providing access to data, it’s also about providing the necessary information to support the best use of the data.