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2.B. A Brief History of GLOBE

GLOBE was initially spearheaded in 1990 by Gunter Schreier of the Deutsches Fernerkundungs-datenzentrum (DFD, the German Remote Sensing Data Center), part of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, the German Aerospace Center). Schreier was interested in improved regional and global DEMs for satellite data processing. His goal was to create a diplomatic environment among:

  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which was experimenting with contour-to-grid conversions of Digital Chart of the World (DCW) hypsography to DEMs
  • University College London (UCL), which was experimenting with several techniques of creating DEMs
  • National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), with its long-standing program of increased access to international and global digital terrain data
  • whomever else might be interested in such cooperation and data development

GLOBE began as an ad-hoc group, though Schreier hoped to affiliate GLOBE with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS) Working Group on Data (WGD, later largely reformed into the Working Group on Information Systems and Services, WGISS), and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme's (IGBP) Data and Information System (DIS). Formal affiliation with CEOS/WGD came in 1993. GLOBE is also an official project within Focus 1 of IGBP-DIS.

GLOBE held meetings at DLR, USGS, and NGDC, and participated in meetings of the CEOS-WGD, the CEOS-WGISS, and the CEOS Working Group on Calibration and Validation. In addition, a Digital Elevation Model Science Working Group (DEM/SWG) formed later by NASA to support objectives of its Earth Observing System, had significant common interests with GLOBE participants and mission. The distribution of these meetings allowed various specialists in topography to share their expertise with the GLOBE Task Team (as CEOS-WGD named the group). Gunter Schreier was the first head (and only "officer") of the GLOBE Task Team.

The original concept opened an empty 30 arc-second latitude-longitude array, and began listing possible sources of DEMs that could populate that array. Initial plans were to encourage experiments by USGS to convert DCW hypsography to 30" grids, and to seek additional contributions of DEMs. NGDC's ETOPO5, or possibly its TerrainBase (then being conceived) would be over-sampled for use as filler wherever better data were not made available.

1992: DMA published DCW. Prototypes had been evaluated for several years prior to 1992, but this year marked the availability of DCW's full global coverage.

1993: Techniques for converting DCW were well underway by USGS with participation by UCL. UCL's J.-P. Muller determined that SPOT imagery, by nature of pricing and restrictions on the data, would not be feasible for GLOBE. Also in 1993, a change in Schreier's duties made it difficult for him to continue as Secretary of GLOBE; David Hastings of NGDC succeeded him in late 1993.

1994: Hastings was able to negotiate, in cooperation with Gerald Elphingstone and others at the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), the design and development of a 30" DEM derived by DMA for contribution to GLOBE. This became the prototype for DTED Level 0, which is now available on the National Imagery and Mapping Agency’s (NIMA, DMA’s successor) Web site and on CD-ROM from NGDC. This became the single largest contribution to GLOBE by coverage area.

1995: The Geographical Survey Institute (GSI) of Japan created an unrestricted DEM for the international scientific community, contributing it to the GLOBE project. This became an example for some other sources of copyright DEMs to derive publicly releasable versions to the scientific community. The first contribution by DMA was released on CD-ROM by NGDC as GLOBE Prototype Version 0.1.

1996: The Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG) negotiated to have NGDC create a 30" DEM of Australia from AUSLIG source materials. This data set remains the property of AUSLIG, but is licensed to NGDC for distribution with GLOBE. AUSLIG also became a distributor of GLOBE by this agreement. Also in 1996, DTED Level 0 was placed on NIMA’s Web site.

1997: Several DEMs were brought to the GLOBE project’s attention. Several of these are still under consideration.

1998: GLOBE Version 1.0 neared completion.

1999: GLOBE Version 1.0 was completed and released. Work on updated releases are in progress.


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