28 Feb 2022
28 Feb 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A new digital elevation model of Antarctica derived from ICESat-2

Xiaoyi Shen1,2, Chang-Qing Ke1,2, Yubin Fan1,2, and Lhakpa Drolma3 Xiaoyi Shen et al.
  • 1School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, 210023, China
  • 2Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and Technology, Nanjing University, Nanjing, 210023, China
  • 3Institute of Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Tibet Meteorological Bureau, Lhasa, 850000, China

Abstract. Antarctic digital elevation models (DEMs) are essential for human fieldwork, ice motion tracking and the numerical modelling of ice sheet. In the past thirty years, several Antarctic DEMs derived from satellite data have been published. However, these DEMs either have coarse spatial resolutions or aggregate observation spanning over several years, which limit their further scientific applications. In this study, the new-generation satellite laser altimeter Ice, Cloud, And Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) is used to generate a new Antarctic DEM for both the ice sheet and ice shelves. Approximately 4.69 × 109 ICESat-2 measurement points from November 2018 to November 2019 are used to estimate surface elevations at resolutions of 500 m and 1 km based on a spatiotemporal fitting method. Approximately 74 % of Antarctica is observed, and the remaining observation gaps are interpolated using the ordinary kriging method. The DEM is formed from the estimated elevations in 500 m and 1 km grid cells, and is finally posted at the resolution of 500 m. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Operation IceBridge (OIB) airborne data are used to evaluate the generated Antarctic DEM (hereafter called the ICESat-2 DEM) in individual Antarctic regions and surface types. Overall, a median bias of 0.03 m and a root-mean-square deviation of 15.64 m result from approximately 5.2 × 106 OIB measurement points. The accuracy and uncertainty of the ICESat-2 DEM vary in relation to the surface slope and roughness, and more reliable estimates are found in the flat ice sheet interior. The ICESat-2 DEM is superior to previous DEMs derived from satellite altimeters for both spatial resolution and elevation accuracy and comparable to those derived from stereo-photogrammetry and interferometry. Similar results are found when comparing to elevation measurements from kinematic GNSS (GPS and the Russian GLONASS) transects. The elevations of high accuracy and ability of annual update make the ICESat-2 DEM an addition to the existing Antarctic DEM groups, and it can be further used for other scientific applications. The generated ICESat-2 DEM (including the map of uncertainty) can be downloaded from National Tibetan Plateau Data Center, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences at (Shen et al., 2021, DOI: 10.11888/Geogra.tpdc.271448).

Xiaoyi Shen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2021-425', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xiaoyi Shen, 15 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2021-425', Veit Helm, 01 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Xiaoyi Shen, 15 May 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on essd-2021-425', Anonymous Referee #3, 20 Apr 2022

Xiaoyi Shen et al.

Data sets

A digital elevation model of Antarctica derived from ICESat-2 (May 2019) Xiaoyi Shen; Chang-Qing Ke; Yubin Fan

Xiaoyi Shen et al.


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Short summary
Obtaining the detailed surface topography in Antarctica is essential for human fieldwork planning, ice surface height changes and mass balance estimations. A new and accurate DEM for Antarctica with a modal resolution of 500 m is presented based on the surface height measurements from ICESat-2 by using a model fitting method. The elevations of high accuracy and ability of annual update make the ICESat-2 DEM an addition to the existing Antarctic DEM groups.