The South Georgia Geographic Information System – 10 Years On

GSGSSI recently commissioned GIS developers at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to upgrade the Government’s Geographic Information System (GIS) portal:

The first edition was launched in 2008 and now includes completely new topographic mapping, environmental layers and satellite imagery base layers, and runs through a faster interface. Some of the new data was compiled for the recently updated map of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, published by BAS, which the Government marked with the launch of a ‘Mapping of South Georgia’ stamp issue. Among other things, the new data highlights the pace at which climate change is affecting South Georgia’s glaciers. We asked Dr Adrian Fox, Head of Mapping and GIS at BAS to write about his recent work.



(By Dr Adrian Fox, Head of Mapping and GIS, British Antarctic Survey)

The South Georgia GIS (SGGIS) is a one-stop resource for researchers and other visitors to South Georgia. It provides a comprehensive portal to information about South Georgia’s landscape and environment, accessed through an interactive web-map. Limited information is also available for the South Sandwich Islands. Most of the data are freely downloadable for all uses; no registration is required, but any use of the data should acknowledge ‘South Georgia GIS’ as the source. Formats available include ESRI Shapefile, KMZ and CSV.

The GIS is structured with base layers of topographic information including a Landsat-8 15 m resolution satellite image mosaic, Digital Elevation Model and the regional-scale bathymetry, coastline, contours and rock/moraine/ice mapping compiled for published maps of South Georgia (1:200,000 scale) and the South Sandwich Islands (1:25,000 and 1;50,000)

Detailed, rigorous mapping from aerial photography and sub-metre resolution satellite imagery is included for Bird Island, Barff Peninsula, Busen Region, the Shackleton Crossing route and Thatcher Peninsula.

Environmental and management layers can be displayed in relation to the underlying mapping and satellite imagery. These include detailed information on: Heritage features such as historic sites and whaling stations; Land and Marine environmental management information such as protected areas; Wildlife sites such as penguin colony locations; and routes, both modern recognised routes and the Shackleton Crossing and Carse South Georgia Survey tracks. Nearly all the data is freely downloadable in ESRI shapefile, kmz and csv formats.

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands commissioned GIS developers at British Antarctic Survey to create the SGGIS. The first edition was launched in 2008 but has recently been fully revised. The GIS now includes completely new topographic mapping and satellite imagery base layers and comprehensively updated environmental layers, and runs through a faster interface.

The website is built using Open Source software, and exports fully OGC-compliant web services.