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Landsat Collection 2 Digital Elevation Model

Several digital elevation model sources are used in the processing of Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 data. These sources, based on specific geographic regions, contribute to improved vertical accuracy in Collection 2 when compared to data processed in the past. Together, these sources are all known as the Landsat Collection 2 Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

Return to Landsat Collection 2 Overview

These DEM sources have been modified for use in Collection 2 Level-1 data processing. Void filling techniques were used where persistent gaps were found in the elevation data, and improvements to the vertical accuracy were realized by differencing accuracies of other elevation datasets to the newer Collection 2 DEM.  

  • Global Land Survey (GLS)
  • Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP)
  • Gravity for Earth, Ocean and Ice Dynamics (GEOID) Model 

Please refer to the “The new Landsat Collection-2 Digital Elevation Model“ publication in the Related Content below for more details on how these sources were incorporated into the Collection 2 DEM.

The DEM sources shown on this map are described below. 

Landsat Collection 2 Digital Elevation Modeling (DEM) sources

Global Land Surveys (GLS)

The DEM sources described below are used in Landsat Collection 2 data processing for all areas of the world except for Antarctica (which incorporates RAMP).

Each appropriate source that is applicable per spatial region of the world is contained in a collective "GLS-2000" elevation dataset. These elevation sources have been formatted to 3-arcsecond resolution to provide consistent elevation information for Landsat data processing.

GLS DEM data are delivered as 1x1-degree tiles, each containing a header file and a binary flat file containing the elevation values.  Note: The GLS-2000 header file displays the ULXMAP, ULYMAP, XDIM, and YDIM units in arc-seconds. This means that the GLS2000 file naming scheme specifies the lower left corner of the tile, and the southern hemisphere changes the ‘n’ to ‘s’ and the eastern hemisphere changes the ‘w’ to ‘e’. (For comparison, the GEOID header displays the units in degrees.)  

Radarsat Antarctica Mapping Project (RAMP)

The Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP) is a high-resolution DEM that combines topographic data from a variety of sources to provide consistent coverage of all of Antarctica. RAMP DEM data are provided by the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC). The geographic coverage of RAMP is displayed on the map above on this page.  

The RAMP DEM incorporates topographic data from satellite radar altimetry, airborne radar surveys, the recently updated Antarctic Digital Database (Version 2), and large-scale topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Australian Antarctic Division. Data were collected between the 1940s and present, with most collected during the 1980s and 1990s.  

The USGS distributes the RAMP DEM in both .hdf4 and .hdf5 formats, each in .zip files. (Approximate file size 250 MB each) 

More Information about RAMP can be found at  

GEOID Model 

While not an actual elevation dataset, the geoid model provides necessary offsets to adjust the elevations of the GLS DEM from its original Earth Gravitational Model 96 (EGM96) to the World Geodetic System 84 (WGS84) ellipsoid. This is necessary so the GLS DEM can be correctly used by the Landsat processing systems software and algorithms.  

The GEOID dataset is a low-resolution dataset that covers the entire earth in a 361 pixel tall by 721 pixel wide image in the geographic projection.  Each pixel covers half a degree in the latitude and longitude directions.  Note: The GEOID header file displays the ULXMAP, ULYMAP, XDIM, and YDIM units in degrees. (For comparison, the GLS-2000 header displays the units in arc-seconds.) 

The file consists of two files – a header file and a binary flat file containing the EGM96 to WGS84 adjustment offsets. (Approximate file size: 520 KB)

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey provides more information on geoid models:  

Downloading Landsat Collection 2 DEM data

Landsat Collection 2 DEM data can be downloaded from EarthExplorer. On the Data Set tab, each of the files listed above are listed under the Landsat Category - Landsat Collection 2 DEM header. 

Landsat Level-1 Metadata Files

Within the Collection 2 Level-1 metadata files, the “DATA_SOURCE_ELEVATION” field displays either "GLS-2000", or "RAMP", to indicate which DEM package was used in Level-1 data processing.  

Digital Object Identifier: