Data Set ID:

GLAS/ICESat 500 m Laser Altimetry Digital Elevation Model of Antarctica, Version 1

The Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument on the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) provides global measurements of elevation, and repeats measurements along nearly-identical tracks; its primary mission is to measure changes in ice volume (mass balance) over time. This digital elevation model (DEM) of Antarctica is derived from GLAS/ICESat laser altimetry profile data and provides new surface elevation grids of the ice sheets and coastal areas, with greater latitudinal extent and fewer slope-related effects than radar altimetry.

This DEM is generated from the first seven operational periods (from February 2003 through June 2005) of the GLAS instrument. It is provided on polar stereographic grids at 500 m grid spacing. The grid covers all of Antarctica north of 86° S. Elevations are reported as centimeters above the datums, relative to both the WGS 84 ellipsoid and the EGM96 geoid, in two separate elevation data files. A data quality map of the interpolation distance is distributed in addition to the elevation data. ENVI header files are also provided.

The data are in 4-byte (long) signed integer binary files (big endian byte order) and are available via FTP.

This is the most recent version of these data.

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Data: Data integrity and usability verified

Documentation: Key metadata and user guide available

User Support: Assistance with data access and usage; guidance on use of data in tools

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Data Format(s):
  • Binary
Spatial Coverage:
N: -63, 
S: -86, 
E: 180, 
W: -180
Spatial Resolution:
  • 500 m x 500 m
Temporal Coverage:
  • 1 February 2003 to 30 June 2005
Temporal ResolutionNot specifiedMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):John Dimarzio, Anita Brenner, Helen Fricker, Robert Schutz, Christopher Shuman, H. Zwally

Geographic Coverage

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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.

John P. DiMarzio 2007. GLAS/ICESat 500 m Laser Altimetry Digital Elevation Model of Antarctica, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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No technical references available for this data set.

How To

How do I import GLAS/ICESat 500 m Laser Altimetry Digital Elevation Model of Antarctica into ArcMap?
The following steps outline the process for visualizing the GLAS/ICESat 500m DEM in ArcGIS. At the time of writing, these instructions are relevant to ArcMap 10.4 Download both the .gz and .hdr file. The compressed data file contains an ENVI raster, and the header file is needed to convert the... read more
V0 Programmatic Data Access Guide
Data from the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC) can be accessed directly from our HTTPS file system. We provide basic command line Wget and curl instructions for HTTPS file system downloads below. For questions about programmatic access to NSIDC... read more