Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
04 May 2009
 | 04 May 2009

A new 1 km digital elevation model of Antarctica derived from combined radar and laser data – Part 2: Validation and error estimates

J. A. Griggs and J. L. Bamber

Abstract. We have developed a new digital elevation model (DEM) of Antarctica from a combination of satellite radar and laser altimeter data. Here, we assess the accuracy of the DEM by comparison with airborne altimeter data from four campaigns covering a wide range of surface slopes and ice sheet regions. Root mean squared (RMS) differences varied from 4.75 m, when compared to a densely gridded airborne dataset over the Siple Coast region of West Antarctica to 33.78 m when compared to a more limited dataset over the Antarctic Peninsula where surface slopes are high and the across track spacing of the satellite data is relatively large. The airborne data sets were employed to produce an error map for the DEM by developing a multiple linear regression model based on the variables known to influence errors in the DEM. Errors were found to correlate highly with surface slope, roughness and density of satellite data points. Errors ranged from typically ~1 m over the ice shelves to between about 2 and 6 m for the majority of the grounded ice sheet. In the steeply sloping margins, along the Peninsula and mountain ranges the estimated error is several tens of metres. Less than 2% of the area covered by the satellite data had an estimated random error greater than 20 m.