China Completes Planet’s Most Accurate Map of Antarctica: Will Help Forecast Global Climate Change

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0120a62cc456970b-320wi Chinese scientists have shifted its focus from mapping the moon to completing the world's first land cover map of the Antarctica at the end of this year. The result will be the most accurate map of the continent ever published.

Chinese scientific researchers successfully drew a 1:100,000 scale land cover map of all of Antarctica. This is the world's first land cover map of Antarctica and the first batch of Chinese-owned important Antarctic scientific data.

Currently, there is little research of land cover classification in Antarctic, and there are no such classification systems that can completely, systematically and accurately classify all the land cover in Antarctica, Cheng Xiao, vice president of the College of Global Change and Earth System Science under Beijing Normal University, said during the current China Symposium on Polar Science 2010.


Research teams from the College of Global Change and Earth System Science under Beijing Normal University applied key technologies, such as the adjustment of DN value overflow saturation, radiometric correction and apparent reflectance transition through collecting 1,100 multi-channel satellite images of all of Antarctica from 1999 to 2003 to reconcile the large number of satellite image data with the true state of the surface.

Meanwhile, scientific researchers also established a classification system of Antarctic land cover and sent members to Antarctica to launch field measurements during China's 25th and 26th Antarctic expeditions, obtaining a more real and reliable database of Antarctic coastlines, islands and land cover.

Cheng said that the land cover map of Antarctica better reflects the differences in Antarctic land cover classifications and is important for China's scientific research in the polar regions. It can also supply more accurate surface parameters for scientific researchers engaged in climate system model prediction.

Using the application of high resolution remote sensing technology, the map is the first ever to show the distribution of key features on the continent, including sea ice, snow, blue ice, rocks, soil marshes, lakes and ice crevasse. The map is also based on 1,073 images acquired from the U.S. satellite Land sat mainly during the austral summer from 1999 to 2002,according to Cheng Xiao, deputy dean of the College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, in an interview with Xinhua.

"The precision of the map is 15 meters, about 20 times of former Antarctic maps made by other countries," Cheng said. "It will greatly advance our geographic knowledge of the Antarctica."

The map provides not only more accurate ground parameters for scientists to forecast global change or global warming with climate system models, but also important data for detection on the change of Antarctica land cover in a long run, Cheng said.

A total of 251 scientists, workers and logistics staff were on the team for the half-year-long research expedition on the icebreaker.

Casey Kazan

People's Daily Online

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