Northern Circumpolar Soils Map


This data set consists of a circumpolar map of dominant soil characteristics, with a scale of 1:10,000,000, covering the United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, northern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. The map was created using the Northern and Mid Latitude Soil Database. The map is in ESRI Shapefile format, consisting of 11 regional areas.. Polygons have attributes that give the percentage polygon area that is a given soil type.

The map shows the dominant soil of the spatial polygon unless the polygon is over 90 percent rock or ice. It also shows the proportion of polygon encompassed by the dominant soil or nonsoil. Soils include turbels, orthels, histels, histosols, mollisols, vertisols, aridisols, andisols, entisols, spodosols, inceptisols (and hapludolls), alfisols (cryalf and udalf), natric great groups, aqu-suborders, glaciers, and rocklands.

The US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Copenhagen Institute of Geography, the European Soil Bureau, the University of Manchester Institute of Landscape Ecology, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, and the Agricultural Research Institute Iceland have shared data and expertise in order to develop the Northern and Mid Latitude Soil Database (Cryosol Working Group, 2001). This database was used to prepare this map. The following maps were used in compiling the soil database:

Canada: 1:1,000,000 Soil Organic Database of Canada (Tarnocai and Lacelle, 1996)
Alaska, US: 1:250,000 State Geographic Database - Alaska (US Soil Conservation Service, 1994)
Northeast Russia: 1:250,000 Soil Map of Northeastern Eurasia (Naumov, 1993)
Northwest Russia: 1:250,000 Soil Map of the Russian Republic (Fridland, 1988)
Greenland: Soil Map of Greenland (Jakobsen and Eiby, 1997)
Scandinavia: 1:2,000,000 Soil Map of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden (Rasumssen et al., 1989)
Kazakhstan: Soil Map of Kazakh SSR (Uspanov, 1976)
Mongolia: Soil Map of Mongolia (Dorzhgotov and Nogina, 1990)
Europe: 1:1,000,000 European Soil Database, version 1.0 (European Soil Bureau, 1999)
Iceland: Generalized Soil Map of Iceland (Arnalds and Gretarsson, 2001)

Citing These Data:

Tarnocai, C., J.M. Kimble, D. Swanson, S. Goryachkin, Ye.M. Naumov, V. Stolbovoi, B. Jakobsen, G. Broll, L. Montanarella, A. Arnoldussen, O. Arnalds, and M. Yli-Halla. 2002. Northern Circumpolar Soils. 1:10,000,000 scale map. Ottawa, Canada: Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Distributed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO.

Overview Table

Category Description
data format ESRI Shapefiles
spatial coverage and resolution Circmumpolar region
grid type and size Lambert azimuthal equal area projection
file size ESRI Shapefiles vary from 1.5 KB to 30 MB compressed.
parameter(s) US Dept. of Agriculture soil classifications
procedures for obtaining data data are available via ftp

1. Contacts:

Investigator(s) Name and Title:

Charles Tarnocai
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Research Branch (ECORC)
K.W. Neatby Building, Rm. 1135
960 Carling Avenue
OTTAWA, Canada, K1A 0C6

Technical Contact:

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services

2. Detailed Data Description:


The map is in a vector format stored as ESRI Shapefile spatial data format (ArcView file). The Shapefiles are most easily imported into ESRI's ArcView, but most other GIS packages can import Shapefile data. ESRI also provides a free basic GIS package, ArcExplorer, on the ESRI web site.

The map is also available in rasterized in a .rtl form, and can be sent to a printer on a Unix system using the lp command. Polar.rtl produces the Northern Circumpolar Soil Map at 1:10 000 000.

The map consists of Shapefiles for 11 regions. Each Shapefile consists of three files: filename.dbf (attribute data), filename.shp (feature geometry) and filename.shx (feature geometry index). All maps were converted from e00 files to ESRI Shapefiles using the ARCSHAPE command. When necessary, field names in attribute tables were changed so that they conformed to the 10 character limit for field names in dBase .dbf.












Following is a quick tutorial for defining the projection of this data set in ArcGIS. These steps were tested with ArcGIS 9:

1. Open ArcToolbox. Select Data Management Tools --> Projections and Transformations --> Define Projection.

2. In the Define Projection window, select an input shapefile for the "Input Dataset or Feature Class" field. The "Coordinate System" field now says "Unknown." Click the icon to the right of the "Coordinate System" field.

3. In the Spatial Reference Properties window that appears, click Select to select a predefined coordinate system. Click Projected Coordinate Systems --> Polar. Select North Pole Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area.prj. Click Add.

4. Back in the Spatial Reference Properties window, click Modify. Change the parameters to the following:

False_Easting: 0.0
False_Northing: 0.0
Central_Meridian: 180.0
Latitude_Of_Origin: 90.0

Leave the "Linear Unit" as meters. In the "Geographic Coordinate System" section, click Modify. For "Datum" and "Spheroid" select <custom>. For "Semimajor axis" and "Semiminor axis" enter 6370997.00. Click OK until the Define Projection wizard runs. The shapefiles are now projected.

All coverages, except ITALY have .PAT files of the following format (data is in the US soil classification system). The Italy cover does not have any distribution values but it does retain the WRB classification and its legend dominant mapping symbol (US).

AREA (metres)
COVER# (internal ARC/INFO #)
COVER-ID (internal ARC/INFO ID#)
MAPUNIT_ID (link to original source data, 7 CHAR)
GELISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Gelisol)
HISTOSOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Histosol)
MOLLISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Mollisol)
VERTISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Vertisol)
ARIDISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Aridisol)
ANDISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Andisol)
ENTISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Entisol)
ULTISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Ultisol)
SPODOSOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Spodosol)
INCEPTISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Inceptisol)
ALFISOL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Alfisol)
NATRIC_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Natric type)
AQU_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Aqu suborder)
TURBEL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Turbel of the Gelisol order)
ORTHEL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Orthel of the Gelisol order)
HISTEL_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is Histel of the Gelisol order)
ROCKLAND_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is rockland)
GLACIER_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is glacier)
MISC_PCT (3 Integer - percentage of polygon that is miscellaneous)

Spatial Coverage:

The map covers polar and mid-latitude regions of the northern hemisphere: Alaska, Canada, Contiguous USA (conusa), Eurasia, Greenland, Iceland, Kazakstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Italy, Svalbard.

Parameter or Variable:

General soil classifications include the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Taxonomy. Soils include turbels, orthels, histels, histosols, mollisols. vertisols, aridisols, andisols, entisols, spodosols, inceptisols (and hapludolls), alfisols (cryalf and udalf), natric great groups, aqu-suborders, glaciers, and rocklands.

Smaller inset maps on the .rtl map show the circumpolar distribution of gelisols (turbels, orthels, and histels), and the ice content (low, medium, or high) of circumpolar soil materials (from the International Permafrost Association, 1997).

3. References and Related Publications:

Arnalds, O. and E. Gretarsson. 2001. Generalized Soil Map of Iceland. 2nd Edition. Agricultural Research Institute (Rala), Reykjavik, Iceland.

Cryosol Working Group. 2001. Northern and Mid Latitude Soil Database, Version 1. National Soil Database, Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Dorzhgotov, D. and N.A. Nogina. 1990. Khors (The Soil Map of Mongolia). pp. 66-67 in: Undesniy Atlas (Atlas of Mongolia). BNMAU-in Shinzhlekh Ukhaany Akademi, Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

European Soil Bureau. 1999. The European Soil Database, version 1.0. CD-ROM. Ipra, Italy.

Fridland, V.M. (editor). 1998. Pochvennaya Karta RSFSR (Soil Map of the Russian Republic), RSFSR. V.V. Dokuchayev Soils Institue, Moscow, Scale 1:2,500,000.

International Permafrost Association. 1997. Circum-Arctic Map of Permafrost and Ground Ice Conditions. (J. Brown, O.J. Ferrians Jr., J.A. Heginbottom, E.S. Melnikov, Eds.). U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services, Denver, Colorado, US.

Jakobsen, B.H. and A. Eiby. 1997. A Soil Map of Greenland. II International Conference, Cryopedology, August 1997, Syktyvkar, Russia.

Schlesinger, W.H. and J.F.B. Mitchell. 1987. Climate model simulations of the equilibrium climatic response to increased carbon dioxide. Rev. Geophys. 25:760-798.

Soil Classification Working Group. 1998. The Candaian System of Soil Classification. Third Ed. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Publ 1646 (Revised), 187 pp.

Soil Science Staff. 1999. A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys, Second Ed. NRCS, USDA, Lincoln, NE, US.

Tarnocai, C. and B. Lacelle. 1996. The Soil Organic Carbon Digital Database of Canada. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

US Soil Conservation Service. 1994. The State Soil Geographic Database, STATSGO. NRCS, USDA, Lincoln, NE, US.

Uspanov. U.U. (Ed.). 1976. Pochvennaya Karta Kazakhskoy SSR (Soil Map of the Kazakh SSR). GUGK, Moscow, Scale 1:2,500,000.

4. Document Information:

Document Creation Date:

11 December 2002

Document Revision Date:

24 January 2005

Document URL: