ArcticDEM is an NGA-NSF initiative to automatically produce a high-resolution, high quality, digital surface model (DSM) of the Arctic using optical stereo imagery, high-performance computing, and open source photogrammetry software.
The ArcticDEM project is a response to the need for high quality elevation data in remote locations, the availability of technology to process big data, and the need for accurate measurement of topographic change.
The producers did not intend for the final product as a single “eyes on” or edited product, but rather a collection of time-dependent elevation models and the infrastructure to process the flow of imagery from an ever-expanding constellation of satellites producing an ever-increasing volume of high-quality data.
ArcticDEM is constructed from hundreds of thousands of individual stereoscopic Digital Elevation Models (DEM) extracted from pairs of submeter (0.32 to 0.5 m) resolution Maxar satellite imagery, including data from WorldView-1, WorldView-2, and WorldView-3, and a small number from GeoEye-1, acquired between 2007 and 2021 over the summer seasons.
Each individual DEM was vertically registered to satellite altimetry measurements from Cryosat-2 and ICESat, resulting in absolute uncertainties of less than 1 m over most of its area, and relative uncertainties of decimeters.
ArcticDEM data is generated by applying stereo auto-correlation techniques to overlapping pairs of high-resolution optical satellite images.
Using the Surface Extraction from TIN-based Searchspace Minimization (SETSM) software, developed by M.J. Noh and Ian Howat at the Ohio State University, stereopair images are processed to Digital Elevation Models using compute resources provided by the Blue Waters supercomputer located at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Output DEM raster files are being made available as both “strip” files as they are output directly from SETSM that preserve the original source material temporal resolution, as well as mosaic files that are compiled from multiple strips that have been co-registered, blended, and feathered to reduce edge-matching artifacts.
The time-dependent nature of the strip DEM files allows users to perform change detection analysis and to compare observations of topography data acquired in different seasons or years. The mosaic DEM tiles are assembled from multiple strip DEMs with the intention of providing a more consistent and comprehensive product over larger areas, while also providing a time stamp and error estimate for each pixel to enable to change detection.
Refer to these guides for official ArcticDEM information & citation.
Along with acknowledging the PGC, the REMA dataset should be cited as follows:
Porter, Claire, et al., 2022, “ArcticDEM – Strips, Version 4.1”, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/C98DVS, Harvard Dataverse, V1, [Date Accessed].
Porter, Claire, et al., 2018, “ArcticDEM, Version 3”, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/OHHUKH, Harvard Dataverse, V1, [Date Accessed].
October 2022 | Partial Release – DEM Strips ONLY
ArcticDEM elevation strips are updated to reflect expanded temporal ranges. The current release includes all previous coverage, spanning 15 years, with forthcoming DEM mosaics.
Version s2s041 – Supersedes all ArcticDEM v3 strip data
Version 4 – COMING SOON
See PGCs DEM Product Guide for more information
Strip DEM files correspond to the overlapping area of the input stereoscopic imagery pair strips as they are collected by Maxar’s constellation of polar-orbiting satellites. Strip DEM dimensions will vary according to the satellite sensor that acquired the images and the off-nadir angle of collection. Most strips are between 13 km and 17 km in width, and 110 km and 120 km in length.
Strip DEM files are provided at 2-meter resolution in 32-bit GeoTIFF format. Elevation units are meters and are referenced to the WGS84 ellipsoid. No ground control or altimetry registration has been applied to the strips.
Version 4 – COMING SOON
Mosaicked DEM files are compiled from from the best quality strip DEM files which have been blended and feathered to reduce void areas and edge-matching artifacts. Filtered IceSAT altimetry data has been applied to the raster files to improve absolute accuracy.
Mosaicked DEM files are distributed in 50 km x 50 km sub-tiles. Mosaicked DEMs are provided at 2-meter spatial resolution in 32-bit GeoTIFF format. Reduced resolution versions are also available at 10 meter, 32 meter, 100 meter, 500 meter, and 1 kilometer resolutions. Elevation units are meters and are referenced to the WGS84 ellipsoid.
VERSION 3 – TOTAL MOSAIC TILES (2m)
TOTAL MOSAIC TILE FILE SIZE
- 16 TB
ArcticDEM Mosaic DEMs available at multiple resolutions (browser)
PGC and ESRI developed web services and applications in support of ArcticDEM data that, in addition to providing raw download capability, can be used to view, explore and perform basic analysis and geoprocessing tasks.
The ArcticDEM Explorer is the best way to preview the datasets if no GIS or remote sensing software is available or you simply want to explore the entire dataset quickly. The full-resolution REMA strips and mosaics are presented in this web map to quickly preview and explore the elevation data. With this web map, users can visualize the ArcticDEM data, preview the spatial coverage, and download simple exports.
There is no login required but if you download or use any ArcticDEM data from the app (or otherwise), you must adhere to PGC’s Acknowledgement Policy.
Download from PGC
ArcticDEM Strip DEM data download via HTTP (browser): https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/strips/s2s041/2m
ArcticDEM Mosaic DEM data download via HTTP (browser): https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/mosaic/v3.0
Use the links below to browse the directory for the entire ArcticDEM dataset. Refer to the User Documentation to see the directory structure, naming schemes, and download contents.
Please note, the first two commands will download the entire dataset, which is over 200 TB for strips and 20 TB for mosaics. Use the subdirectory examples to limit your download.
2-meter strips (entire dataset!)
wget -r -N -nH -np -R index.html* --cut-dirs=3 https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/strips/s2s041/2m/
2-meter mosaic tiles (entire dataset!)
wget -r -N -nH -np -R index.html* --cut-dirs=3 https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/mosaic/v3.0/2m/
2-meter strips (subdirectory example)
wget -r -N -nH -np -R index.html* --cut-dirs=6 https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/strips/s2s041/2m/n55e155/
2-meter mosaic tiles (subdirectory example)
wget -r -N -nH -np -R index.html* --cut-dirs=6 https://data.pgc.umn.edu/elev/dem/setsm/ArcticDEM/mosaic/v3.0/2m/15_27/
Download from AWS
Strip DEMs available at 2-meter resolution.
All publicly-available DEM data from our projects are also hosted in an open AWS bucket and indexed with a STAC catalog. DEM data assets can be identified using the DEM STAC items and downloaded or used directly in the cloud.
ArcticDEM AWS Open Data Registry page:
Web Services & Applications
Need help connecting to web service layers? Check out PGC’s guide to using web services in ArcGIS and QGIS to get you started.
ArcticDEM 2m Strip Index
ArcticDEM 2m Tile Index
ArcticDEM Mosaic-only Image Service:
ArcticDEM composite (strip and mosaic) Image Service
- REST Endpoint: https://di-pgc.img.arcgis.com/arcgis/rest/services/arcticdem_rel2210/ImageServer
- ArcGIS Online Item: https://umn.maps.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=715d91206df3475d8c0e4aee6f56ca93
- WMS Service: https://di-pgc.img.arcgis.com/arcgis/services/arcticdem_rel2210/ImageServer/WMSServer
- WCS Service: https://di-pgc.img.arcgis.com/arcgis/services/arcticdem_rel2210/ImageServer/WCSServer
A shaded relief version of the ArcticDEM dataset with voids filled and the resolution reduced is available as a 36″x36″ map poster. There are two versions, one that contains cartographic elements such as cities, research sites, and administrative boundaries and one that is just the hillshade image. The maps can be viewed/downloaded below. Please note, these maps are not for use in GIS.
- GEOINT Symposium 2019 Keynote: Vice Admiral Robert Sharp, NGA Director (6/3/2019)
- Blue Waters user Claire Porter Wins NOAA David Johnson Award for ArcticDEM Research (4/16/2019)
- President Barack Obama ArcticDEM Announcement, Kotzebue, Alaska (9/3/2015)
- NCSA: Blue Waters and Advanced Visualization Lab Co-Produces Award-Winning Documentary “Atlas of a Changing Earth” (12/1/2021)
- Trajectory Magazine: Polar GEOINT (4/29/2019)
- HPC Wire: Blue Waters User Claire Porter Wins NOAA David Johnson Award (4/17/2019)
- NCSA: Blue Waters User Claire Porter Wins NOAA David Johnson Award for ArcticDEM Research (4/16/2019)
- Esri: High Fidelity Polar Elevation (10/29/2018)
- GoGeomatics Canada: CCMEO’s Elevation Data Revolution: Part 2 ArcticDEM development (4/4/2018)
- AGU EOS: Map Provides High-Resolution Look at Nearly Entire Arctic Region (10/24/2017)
- NGA Pathfinder Magazine: Mapping the Arctic from the sky (8/21/2017)
- Esri: Arctic Elevation updated with new, high-resolution data (6/6/2017)
- ArcticDEM Project has now mapped more than 65 percent of the Arctic (6/2/2017)
- White House: New elevation map details Alaska like never before (9/1/2016)
- NSF, NGA release first unclassified digital elevation models of Alaska (9/1/2016)
- University of Minnesota-led project releases 3-D elevation maps of Alaska for White House Arctic Initiative (9/1/2016)
- National Geographic: Alaska has finally been mapped as precisely as Mars (9/1/2016)
- Blue Waters supercomputer used to create 3D elevation models for White House Arctic Initiative (9/1/2016)
- NSF, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency support development of new Arctic Maps (9/2/2016)
- Esri: GIS makes the picture clearer on climate change (9/6/2016)