04 Aug 2021

04 Aug 2021

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

A fine-scale 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 topography monitoring and ice mass change estimation. In the past thirty decades, several Antarctic DEMs derived from satellite data have been published. However, these DEMs either have coarse spatial resolutions or vague time stamps, 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 fine-scale and specific time-stamped 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 250 m, 500 m and 1 km based on a spatiotemporal fitting method, which results in a modal resolution of 250 m for this DEM. Approximately 74 % of Antarctica is observed, and the remaining observation gaps are interpolated using the ordinary kriging method. 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 0.11 m and a root-mean-square deviation of 8.27 m result from approximately 1.4 × 105 spatiotemporally matched grid cells. 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. The decimeter-scale accuracy and specific time stamp make the ICESat-2 DEM an essential addition to the existing Antarctic DEM groups, and it can be further used for other scientific applications.

Xiaoyi Shen et al.

Status: open (until 10 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-204', Anonymous Referee #1, 13 Sep 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-204', Veit Helm, 14 Sep 2021 reply

Xiaoyi Shen et al.

Data sets

Antarctic DEM at 250 m resolution (May 2019) Xiaoyi Shen; Chang-Qing Ke; Yubin Fan

Xiaoyi Shen et al.


Total article views: 472 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
323 139 10 472 5 4
  • HTML: 323
  • PDF: 139
  • XML: 10
  • Total: 472
  • BibTeX: 5
  • EndNote: 4
Views and downloads (calculated since 04 Aug 2021)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 04 Aug 2021)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 442 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 442 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 21 Sep 2021
Short summary
Obtaining the detailed surface topography in Antarctica is essential for human fieldwork planning, ice surface height changes and mass balance estimations. A definite time-stamped and fine-scale DEM for Antarctica with a modal resolution of 250 m is presented based on the surface height measurements from ICESat-2 by using a model fitting method, which is more valuable for further scientific applications, e.g., land ice height and mass balance estimations.