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2.A. What GLOBE Is

The Global Land One-kilometer Base Elevation (GLOBE) project is several things.

  • GLOBE is a data base. It is a unique, global, digital elevation model (DEM) designed, openly peer-reviewed, implemented, and documented while being coordinated by a global consortium of scientists and organizations. During GLOBE's development, at least two global DEMs were developed by other groups supporting various objectives. However, GLOBE’s objectives (as noted here) are broader than merely the development of the data base.
  • GLOBE is a file format. GLOBE began with the conceptual opening of a two-dimensional thirty-arc-second (30") latitude-longitude digital data array, and the hope to populate it with both the Best Available Data (B.A.D.), and the Globally Only Open-Access Data (G.O.O.D.). The former could include copyright data that might be made available for distribution by GLOBE with minimal restrictions, while the latter could not contain any restricted data. Allowing for both options has enabled GLOBE, for example, to work with the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group to develop a DEM much better than could otherwise be included while respecting the intellectual property rights of the Australian government.
  • GLOBE is a data management philosophy. GLOBE’s original array actually was a nested grid that allowed multiple overlapping coverage at various grid spacings, but all in latitude-longitude projection. The design followed the raster data model of the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS), a scientific geographic information system. This concept was used in NGDC's TerrainBase (Row and Hastings, 1994), which was a prototype of GLOBE at lower resolution. The concept proved stable throughout the 8 years of GLOBE's development.
  • GLOBE is a working environment. GLOBE was never a source for funding DEM data creation. Rather, GLOBE was (and is) an ad-hoc group that meets to share information on data sources and development techniques. Semiannual to annual GLOBE meetings were attached to other assemblies to allow for synergy between GLOBE participants and other scientists. The simultaneous development of increased cooperation between agencies in several countries, and between certain military and civilian institutions, led to increased public access to a major military DEM. In addition, that climate led to an agreement for joint development of a dedicated Space Shuttle mission designed to create an almost-global DEM (between 60o North and South latitudes, the orbital coverage of the Space Shuttle). The currently funded U.S. Department of Defense/NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mapper mission hopes to provide publicly-available 3 arc-second digital elevation data during 2001-2002.


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