US-based glacier researchers are redirecting their usual activities toward the Nepali earthquake relief effort. The research teams – one at The Ohio State University and another at the University of Minnesota – are using their software code, Surface Extraction for TIN-based Searchspace Minimization (SETSM), in tandem with powerful supercomputers at Ohio Supercomputer Center to generate high-resolution, 3-D digital surface maps of the local Nepali terrain. The maps are critical for both immediate rescue and longer-term stabilization planning efforts related to the deadly April 25 earthquake that struck central Nepal killing more than 7,000 people.
Due to the urgent nature of this endeavor, the SETSM team was given priority queuing and an emergency allocation of up to 60,000 core hours on the flagship OSC supercomputer system, the Oakley Cluster, explains Brian Guilfoos, HPC Client Services Manager at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.
The SETSM software generates surface maps, called Digital Terrain Models, or DTMs, by applying its algorithm to sets of overlapping pairs of high-resolution satellite images. The images are taken by the Worldview-1 and Worldview-2 satellites and distributed by the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota.
Ian Howat, Ph.D., an associate professor of Earth Sciences at Ohio State and a principal investigator in the Glacier Dynamics Research Group at the university’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, reports that they have produced a mosaic model of the Kathmandu area with measurements at eight-meter intervals, but the work isn’t done yet.
“Besides improving on this DTM, we will be processing the entirely useable archive of Worldview stereo imagery over Nepal, starting this week, in order to expand coverage,” said Myoung-Jong Noh, a member of the Glacier Dynamics Research Group at the Byrd Center.
Last year, the team produced a complete Digital Surface Model of the Greenland Ice Sheet and its periphery at two-meter resolution.