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Copernicus data used in relief maps, now freely available at better resolution

on 17 December 2020

The access rights for Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), that map terrain elevation and are commonly used in geographic information systems to produce relief maps, have now been extended and the dataset is openly and freely available to any registered user.

Since 2019, the Copernicus Programme has been equipped with a global and consistent high-resolution DEM, available to all its users to address a variety of applications.

There are two types of DEM: digital surface model (DSM) and digital terrain model (DTM). DSM represent the envelope of Earth's surface including vegetation and human-made objects, such as buildings and other types of infrastructure, while DTM represent the ground elevation. DSM are useful for landscape modelling, city modelling and visualisation applications, while DTM are often required for flood or drainage modelling, land-use studies, geological and other applications.

The Copernicus DEM incorporates flattened water bodies and the consistent flow of rivers and the editing of shore- and coastlines, implausible terrain structures and special features such as airports. It is based on radar satellite data of unprecedented geographical range, covering the entire global landmass including Antarctica and arctic regions.

The availability of the Copernicus DEM 30 metre dataset to all users is a game changer for many applications, considering its global coverage, very good accuracy and now the availability of a free & open licence. Applications benefitting from it include, for instance, the geometric correction of satellite images, the modelling of water flow for hydrology, rendering of 3D visualisations, or precision farming.

Please visit this link for more information about data access.

Image credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020)/processed by Airbus Defence and Space GmbH