2-in-1 update of the interactive Antarctic map: Updated data & new look | Polarjournal
The Antarctic Digital Database has a new look and also provides information on the research stations in addition to topographical data. Image: Screenshot ADD, SCAR

Along with the regular update of the Antarctic Digital Database – the interactive Antarctic map – the British Antarctic Survey recently published a new interactive map viewer.

For all operations in Antarctica, whether in research, logistics, environmental management or tourism, up-to-date, high-resolution maps are essential. With new islands, the current extent of the ice shelf and the updated coastline of the South Orkney Islands, the new map data published in May provides crucial information for the various players in the rapidly changing Antarctic environment.

The British Antarctic Survey released the new data along with a new, freely accessible interactive map viewer that brings together all Digital Antarctic Database (ADD) datasets that extend to 60° south latitude and can be downloaded from the data catalog:

  • Coastline, including grounding lines and ice shelf fronts
  • Rock outcrop
  • Contours
  • Lakes
  • Moraine
  • Streams
  • Seamask

In addition, research stations or historically significant places and monuments can be displayed.

The map shows the extent of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula as depicted in the last four versions of the ADD. Image: Screenshot ADD, SCAR

Due to the rapid changes in the Antarctic, accelerated by global warming, the data sets are updated every six months. For example, ice shelf fronts are constantly moving – towards the continent due to the calving of large icebergs or towards the ocean due to the faster flow of glaciers. Glaciers on islands are also losing a lot of ice, causing coastlines to shift and new islands that were once hidden under ice to appear, as was recently the case on the South Orkney Islands. All these changes have been taken into account in the latest update.

In a bay of Coronation Island, which belongs to the South Orkney Islands, islands are visible that have been exposed due to the retreating glacier. Image: Screenshot ADD, SCAR

Last but not least, the map data has been improved enormously thanks to new, high-resolution satellite images. The position of offshore rocks and islands, which were not displayed or were displayed in the wrong place in previous versions of the map, are now much more accurate.

The Antarctic Digital Database, a project of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), is a seamless compilation of the best available topographic datasets for Antarctica. According to the ADD Version 3.0 manual, it was first published by SCAR on CD-ROM in 1993, and Version 2.0 appeared on the World Wide Web in 1998.

The British Antarctic Survey’s Mapping and Geographic Information Centre (MAGIC) is responsible for collecting, updating, managing and distributing the data.

Julia Hager, Polar Journal AG

Link to the Antarctic Digital Database: https://add.scar.org/

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