College of Science & Engineering
The Polar Geospatial Center (PGC) is a polar science and logistics support organization at the University of Minnesota with core funding provided by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Polar Programs (OPP). PGC provides three primary services:
- Domain and institutional knowledge to solve a broad range of polar geospatial problems
- Access to sub-meter commercial satellite imagery for the Antarctic and Arctic, and the expertise to task, manage, process, and deliver high-level, value-added products
- Educational courses and online material to transfer PGC’s knowledge and experience to the community
The EarthDEM project is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) with the objective of producing openly distributed high-resolution (2 m), precise (decimeter accuracy with ground control), repeat Digital Surface Models (DSMs) covering a substantial portion of the earth’s land mass and focusing on areas of change, including coastlines, glaciers, volcanic and tectonically active zones, key ecological areas, and human infrastructure.
EarthDEM builds upon two previous NSF-funded continental-scale repeat mapping projects covering the northern and southern polar regions, respectively: ArcticDEM and Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA). The polar regions were the first target due to the relative abundance of imagery available from these polar-orbiting satellites (i.e. the higher the latitude, the more frequent the satellite pass) and less competition for satellite tasking. NSF’s close partnership with the NGA has increased satellite tasking and acquisition at lower latitudes over the past several years, so that EarthDEM will now provide over hundreds of millions of km2 of terrain with some areas having 10s of repeat measurements for precise change detection. By leveraging existing algorithms, data flow and infrastructure, EarthDEM will provide higher resolution topography than any other space-based source for a small fraction of the cost.