Data Set ID: 

MEaSUREs Antarctic Boundaries for IPY 2007-2009 from Satellite Radar, Version 1

This data set is part of the NASA Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) program, and provides a map of Antarctic ice shelves and the Antarctic coastline. The map is assembled from 2008-2009 ice-front data from ALOS PALSAR and ENVISAT ASAR data acquired during International Polar Year, 2007-2009 (IPY), and the InSAR-based grounding line data (MEaSUREs Antarctic Grounding Line from Differential Satellite Radar Interferometry) augmented with other grounding line sources.

Note: These data are considered provisional pending a review by the MEaSUREs program. Once the data have been reviewed, this statement will be removed from this documentation.

There is a more recent version of these data.

  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Ice Sheets > Grounding Line > GROUNDING LINE
Data Format(s):
  • ESRI Shapefile
Spatial Coverage:
N: -60, 
S: -90, 
E: 180, 
W: -180
Spatial Resolution:
  • 25 m to 120 m
Temporal Coverage:
  • 7 February 1992 to 17 December 2014
Temporal Resolution22 yearMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Jeremie Mouginot, Eric Rignot, Bernd Scheuchl

Geographic Coverage

No access options.

As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Mouginot, J., E. Rignot, and B. Scheuchl. 2016. MEaSUREs Antarctic Boundaries for IPY 2007-2009 from Satellite Radar, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

Literature Citation

As a condition of using these data, we request that you acknowledge the author(s) of this data set by referencing the following peer-reviewed publication.

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Detailed Data Description


This data set consists of four ESRI shapefiles and a raster mask provided in GeoTIFF (.tif) and bitmap (.bmp) format.

The ESRI shapefiles consist of five file types:

  • .shp – main file that stores the feature geometry
  • .shx – index file that stores the index of the feature geometry
  • .dbf – dBASE table that stores the attribute information of features
  • .prj – file that stores the coordinate system information
  • .cpg – optional file that specifies the code page for identifying the character set to be used

The raster image is a 500 m resolution mask of Antarctica that includes the boundaries, grounding line, coastline, and ice shelves described in the shapefiles.

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File and Directory Structure

Data are available via FTP and HTTPS.

This directory contains the following folders:

Folder Name Description
Table 1. Top-Level FTP Directory Structure
IceBoundaries_Antarctica merged shapefile product that represents the coastline, floating glacial ice (ice shelves and ice tongues), and grounded ice
IceShelf_Antarctica floating glacial ice (ice shelves and ice tongues) boundaries shapefile
Coastline_Antarctica coastline shapefile
GroundingLine_Antarctica grounded ice (grounding line) shapefile
Mask_Antarctica GeoTIFF and bitmap files containing the ice shelf mask

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File Naming Convention

This section describes the file naming convention for this data set (Table 1).


Naming Convention: XXXXXXXXXX_Antarctica_v1.ext

Variables Description
Table 2. Naming Convention
XXXXXXXXXX Type of data:
Antarctica Geographic location
v1 Version 1
.ext File type:
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File Size

The shapefiles in this data set range from 480  KB to 1,788 KB. The GeoTIFF (.tif) raster mask is 2,240 KB, and the bitmap (.bmp) raster mask is 119.7 MB.

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Total volume of the data set is 127 MB.

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Spatial Coverage

The data provide an outline for 1,553,978 km2 of Antarctic Ice Shelves (floating glacier ice) or 99.52 percent of the total ice shelf area for Antarctica (Rignot et al. 2013).

Southernmost Latitude: 90° S
Northernmost Latitude: 60° S
Westernmost Longitude: 180° W
Easternmost Longitude: 180° E

Spatial Coverage Maps

The Antarctic raster mask (Figure 1) includes floating ice, grounded ice, and ocean as per the coding for the GeoTIFF raster following Table 4. Figure 2 shows spatial coverage for each shapefile in the data set.

Figure 1. Antarctic Raster Mask

Figure 2. Shapefile Spatial Coverage Maps

Spatial Resolution

Spatial resolution varies for each sensor. See Table 2 for the associated approximate resolutions.

Satellite/Sensor Resolution
Table 3. Spatial Resolution by Satellite/Sensor
ERS-1, ERS-2 ~50 m
RADARSAT-1 ~35 m
RADARSAT-2 ~46 m
COSMO SkyMed ~25 m
Sentinel-1A ~50 m

Projection and Grid Description

The shapefiles and GeoTIFF file are provided in Polar Stereographic projection ESPG:3031.

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Temporal Coverage

Data for InSAR grounding lines were obtained from multiple satellites between 1992 and 2014, for which the newest grounding line position was used. Specifically for the Amundsen Sea Sector, data from 2011 was used. The data for the coastline mapping were acquired in 2008 and 2009

Temporal Resolution

22 years (264 months).

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Parameter or Variable

The data set is an integrated product that provides detailed mappings of the location of the Antarctic Ice Sheet grounding line, ice shelf pinning points (e.g. nunataks, ice rises, and ice rumples and denoted by the attribute "Islands" in the Ice Boundaries shapefile), and the coastline. This product can be used as a mask to define grounded ice, floating ice and/or the Antarctic coastline.  The primary attributes for each shapefile are listed below in Table 4.

    File Name Data Field Description
    Table 4. Primary Data Attributes for Shapefiles
    Coastline_Antarctica Name ocean
    GroundingLine_Antarctica Name grounded ice
    IceBoundaries_Antarctica Name Names for Antarctic floating glacial ice (ice shelves and ice tongues), single label for all grounded ice, single label for all islands
    IceShelf_Antarctica Name Names for Antarctic floating glacial ice (ice shelves and ice tongues)

    The coding for the GeoTIFF raster is:

    • 0 for the ocean
    • 125 for the floating glacial ice (ice shelves and ice tongues)
    • 255 for the grounded ice

    To view a sample of the data, refer to the Spatial Coverage section, Figure 1.

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    Software and Tools

    Shapefiles can be readily accessed using GIS software such as ArcGIS and QGIS.

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    Data Acquisition and Processing

    Theory of Measurements

    The ice front can be determined from SAR satellite imagery. The grounding line refers to the location where an ice sheet detaches from the bedrock and starts floating in the ocean. This data set includes ice front and grounding line information for the entire Antarctic coastline, derived from a variety of satellite radar interferometry data. Mapping of the different boundaries was realized with QGIS v2.12.

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    Data Acquisition Methods

    Grounding lines for the Antarctic Ice Sheet were derived using differential satellite synthetic aperture radar interferometry (DInSAR) data from the Earth Remote Sensing Satellites 1 and 2 (ERS-1 and -2), RADARSAT and RADARSAT-2, and the Advanced Land Observing System (ALOS) PALSAR for years 1992 to 2009. Ice front information was extracted from ALOS PALSAR data acquired during IPY in 2008 and 2009. A detailed description of the product and the methodology is provided in Rignot et al. 2011.

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    Data Sources

    See MEaSUREs Antarctic Grounding Line from Differential Satellite Radar Interferometry for details on grounding line acquisitions. Ice front data (coastline) were determined from ALOS/PALSAR and ENVISAT/ASAR amplitude images acquired in 2008 and 2009. See Rignot, et al. 2013 for more details.

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    Quality Assessment

    A detailed description of the product and its quality is provided in Rignot et al. 2013. Details about grounding line position are provided in MEaSUREs Antarctic Grounding Line from Differential Satellite Radar Interferometry user guide. We estimate that the coastline is mapped with a precision of about 300 m and is based on geocoded SAR amplitude images from ALOS/PALSAR and ENVISAT/ASAR geocoded at spacing of 150 m.

    In some places, coastline and grounding line are evolving rapidly, and as a result, this dataset may not represent the current state. In addition, a few pinning points may be still missing.

    Based on QGIS software, the shapefiles should be free of geometry errors; i.e. shapes should not overlap or intersect.

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    Sensor or Instrument Description

    For information about the SAR systems used to construct the mosaics from which this data set is derived, see SAR Datasets / RADARSAT-1 | Alaska Satellite Facility, ERS - Earth Online - ESA , and About ALOS - PALSAR.

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    References and Related Publications

    Contacts and Acknowledgments

    Dr. Jeremie Mouginot
    University of California, Irvine
    Department of Earth System Science
    Croul Hall
    Irvine, California 92697

    Dr. Eric Rignot
    University of California, Irvine
    Department of Earth System Science
    Croul Hall
    Irvine, California 92697

    Dr. Bernd Scheuchl
    University of California, Irvine
    Department of Earth System Science
    Croul Hall
    Irvine, California 92697

    Document Information


    October 2016


    No technical references available for this data set.

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