The naked truth about our landscape

Oct 01, 2009
Satellite images near Culcairn in NSW showing the topography with vegetation (left) and without vegetation (right). Credit: CSIRO

Australia has been stripped bare of vegetation to expose the surface that lies beneath.

Scientists from CSIRO's for a Healthy Country Flagship have removed approximately 90 per cent of Australia's vegetation cover from of the continent to produce the most detailed available Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of its topography.

"The DEM will revolutionise geological applications, land-use studies, soil science, and much more," CSIRO's Dr John Gallant said in an address today to the Spatial Sciences Conference in Adelaide.

"Produced at a one-second resolution - about 30 metres - the DEM exposes intimate details about Australia's landscape features. As a result, we can now clearly make out the shape of our landscape and understand how water might move across its surface, how it came to be its present shape and how variable our soil terrains are."

Since releasing the Digital Surface Model (DSM) last year, the new vegetation removal process has also resulted in a 'spin-off' vegetation height map that may be useful for calculating biomass and contributing to carbon accounting.

The DEM will provide a body of information related to water resources and is a key activity within the water information research and development alliance between the Flagship and the Bureau of Meteorology's 'Improving Water Information Program'.

The final phase of building the one-second resolution DEM will occur over the next year with the inclusion of Australia's river network to produce a drainage-enforced DEM that will assist the Bureau to generate water accounts for the continent.

The DEM is based on the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) satellite data collected by NASA during its mission in 2000.

The one-second DEM dataset is licensed and managed by project collaborator, Geoscience Australia, and will be available from mid-November to all tiers of Australian government. A three-second version (approximately 90 metres) of the DEM will eventually be available for public use.

Source: CSIRO (news : web)

Explore further: Radioisotope studies show the continental crust formed 3 billion years ago

Related Stories

Himalayan glacier melting observed from space

Mar 27, 2007

The Himalaya, the “Roof of the World”, source of the seven largest rivers of Asia are, like other mountain chains, suffering the effects of global warming. To assess the extent of melting of its 33 000 km2 of glacier ...

Liquid water found flowing on Mars? Not yet

Feb 29, 2008

Liquid water has not been found on the Martian surface within the last decade after all, according to new research. The finding casts doubt on the 2006 report that the bright spots in some Martian gullies ...

Supernova Remnants Dance in the LMC

Jan 10, 2008

The Gemini South Multi-Object Spectograph (GMOS) recently captured a dramatic image of a vast cloud complex named DEM L316 located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The peanut-shaped nebula appears to be a single ...

Sharpest ever global Earth map

May 05, 2005

The most detailed portrait ever of the Earth's land surface is being created with ESA's Envisat environmental satellite. The GLOBCOVER project aims at producing a global land cover map to a resolution three ...

Water scarcity started 15 years ago

Aug 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- New analysis shows that the water scarcity being experienced in southeast Australia started up to 15 years ago.

Recommended for you

ESA image: Northwest Sardinia

Jul 03, 2015

This image over part of the Italian island of Sardinia comes from the very first acquisition by the Sentinel-2A satellite.

Experiments open window on landscape formation

Jul 02, 2015

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

Jul 02, 2015

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.