15 Feb 2021

15 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

TanDEM-X PolarDEM 90 m of Antarctica: Generation and error characterization

Birgit Wessel1, Martin Huber1, Christian Wohlfart1,3, Adina Bertram1, Nicole Osterkamp2, Ursula Marschalk1, Astrid Gruber1,4, Felix Reuß2,5, Sahra Abdullahi1, Isabel Georg2, and Achim Roth1 Birgit Wessel et al.
  • 1German Remote Sensing Data Center, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Weßling, Germany
  • 2Company for Remote Sensing and Environmental Research (SLU), Kohlsteiner Str. 5, 81243 München, Germany
  • 3Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Data Office, Nonnenwald 2, 82377 Penzberg, Germany
  • 4Stemmer Imaging, Gutenbergstr. 9-13, 82178 Puchheim, Germany
  • 5Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TU Wien, 1040 Vienna, Austria

Abstract. We present the generation and validation of an updated version of the TanDEM-X Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Antarctica: the TanDEM-X PolarDEM 90 m of Antarctica. Improvements compared to the global TanDEM-X DEM version include filling of gaps with newer acquisitions, interpolating of smaller voids, smoothing of noisy areas and replacing frozen or open sea areas with geoid undulations. For the latter, a new semi-automatic editing approach allowed the delineation of the coastline from DEM and amplitude data. Finally, the DEM was transformed into the cartographic Antarctic Polar Stereographic projection with a homogeneous metric spacing in northing and easting of 90 meters. As X-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) penetrates the snow and ice pack by several meters a new concept for absolute height adjustment was set up that relies on areas with stable penetration conditions and on ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) elevations. After DEM generation and editing, a sophisticated height error characterization of the whole Antarctic continent with ICESat and IceBridge data was carried out and a validation over blue ice achieved a mean vertical height error of just −0.3 m ± 2.5 m standard deviation. The filled and edited Antarctic TanDEM-X PolarDEM 90 m is outstanding due to its accuracy, homogeneity and coverage completeness. It is freely available for scientific purposes and provides a high-resolution dataset as basis for polar research, such as ice velocity, mass balance estimation or ortho-rectification.

Birgit Wessel 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 tc-2021-19', Ted Scambos, 16 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-19', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 Mar 2021

Birgit Wessel et al.

Data sets

TanDEM-X - PolarDEM - Antarctica, 90m Birgit Wessel and Martin Huber

Birgit Wessel et al.


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Short summary
We present a new digital elevation model (DEM) of Antarctica derived from the TanDEM-X DEM, with new interferometric radar acquisitions incorporated and edited elevations, especially at the coast. A strength of this DEM is its homogeneity and completeness. Extensive validation work shows an excellent vertical accuracy of −0.3 m ± 2.5 m standard deviation on blue ice surfaces compared to ICESat laser altimeter heights. The new TanDEM-X PolarDEM 90 m of Antarctica is freely available.