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Greenland Mapping with SPOT 6/7

Greenland, the largest island in the world, is not the easiest one to map. Prone to extreme weather conditions along with scattered villages and housing, the country has never been entirely mapped within a single campaign.

As an example, part of the existing maps date back to the 1930s, and others to the 1980s. As a result, none of them are accurate enough to be used with GPS. Outdated maps combined with a melting ice sheet definitively require new and updated digital mapping for the country.

Since 2015, the Danish Agency for Data Supply and Efficiency (SDFE), in close cooperation with Greenland’s Government, has been conducting a pilot project in order to define the best way to map 16% of the ice-free area of Greenland at 1:50,000 scale, which represents about one and a half times the size of Denmark. The project creating new digital maps using satellite imagery over 4 geographical areas, Zackenberg, Tasililaq, Narsaq and Disko, that is a total area of about 82,000 km². To achieve this, DHI GRAS , Denmark partnered with Airbus Defence and Space to create mapping products derived from SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 imagery.

“Airbus Defence and Space was our client’s first choice, due to the tri-stereo capabilities of SPOT 6/7 that allow for precise mapping in the steep and remote terrain of Greenland.” Says Rasmus Eskerod Borgstrøm, Managing Director of DHI GRAS, and adds, “It has been an absolute pleasure working jointly with Airbus on this challenging and important project. I would like send my warmest gratitude towards both the technical, legal and sales team at Airbus Defence and Space and pass on my recommendations for everyone.”

Thanks to SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 high resolution imagery, and their rapid coverage capacity, images have been acquired within a short time frame, allowing the production of Orthophotos, Digital Elevation Models as well as vector layers which will be shared among a wide community of users. Indeed, it was an important part of this project to ensure users had the widest possible access to the data. Orthophotos, Digital elevation Models and vector layers over the four geographical areas will be freely available for users in Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, EU and EEA countries. Other countries will have the capacity to visualise these two datasets.

This new cartographic data will contribute to supporting Greenland’s infrastructure management as well as its economic development. Precise and detailed maps are also important in connection with climate and environmental monitoring, rescue preparedness and business development. With these updated maps, police and rescue organisations will be able to use satellite navigation with accurate mapping.

At the end of 2017, the results will be evaluated, and the Greenland Self-Government and the Ministry of Energy, Supply and Climate Affairs will make a decision on a complete survey of Greenland.