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After the announcement of the Climate Data Initiative in March 2014, we launched a Research Topic in Frontiers in Earth Science that collected novel articles to pave ...

After the announcement of the Climate Data Initiative in March 2014, we launched a Research Topic in Frontiers in Earth Science that collected novel articles to pave the way towards "A global high-resolution digital elevation model: a paradigm shift in high impact research and applications”.

In one of the articles submitted, authors made the analogy between a high-accuracy free global DEM and the Human Genome Project (HGP), an international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping of all human genes and make that an open-access online database (launched in 1990 and completed in 2003, with roughly $3 billion). Indeed, very similar efforts may be required to achieve a high-accuracy, open-access global digital elevation model (DEM).

With a proliferation of satellite data for environmental monitoring and ever increasing big data analytics methods as well as massive compute power, and last but not least, the Internet of Things, there ought to be no reason for still having to work with a global free DEM that is now reaching nearly 20 years of age and which, without applying smart and complex statistical methods to it, exhibits average errors in the vertical that are orders of magnitude greater than the accuracy needed in hazard modeling and prediction.

For obvious reasons, this is a very unfavorable situation and as an international collective, including many people in aid organizations, government agencies, academia and industry, we continue calling for a free and open-access high-accuracy DEM at the global scale that would undoubtedly have game-changing impacts on many applications, ranging from weather prediction to food security and disaster response, and so many others.

Call for papers
In a concerted continuous effort to confront and address this challenge, we open up this follow-on Research Topic and invite you to submit your research paper, commentary, or opinion piece that demonstrates the need for and calls for a high-accuracy DEM that will be open to everyone, without restrictions. This Research Topic is open to all kinds of research and applications on digital elevation models, from Hydrosphere to Atmospheric Science and Cryospheric Science. Should you specialty not be included here please do let us know.

Keywords: Digital elevation model (DEM), open-access, global, hazards, challenge

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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