Errors in the Greenland map in Times Atlas have now been corrected with Danish assistance

Published 25-01-2012

The publisher HarperCollins behind Times Atlas has just published a special-issue insert map that corrects the errors in the Greenland map that appeared in the latest edition of their famous atlas. The new correct reproduction of Greenland is based partly on information about the location of ice margins and the Greenland coastlines, which has been prepared by GEUS.

A special-issue insert map to the world famous atlas, The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, has just been released by publisher HarperCollins. It is a new edition of the Greenland map, which was flawed in the recent 13th edition of the atlas.

The error, which included incorrect positions of the ice margins, in September, led the publisher to conclude that 15 per cent of the ice in Greenland had disappeared in the period from 1999 to 2011. This caused many polar researchers to react strongly, because the percentage was wrong. The ice has shrunk in recent years, but not so much, said the researchers. Satellite images showed quite clearly that both glaciers and ice sheet were present in many of the areas the atlas map showed as ice-free.

The response from the research community prompted HarperCollins into action, and in the autumn the publisher began a revision of the map in dialogue with the researchers. The result is a new map of Greenland published as a special-issue map, which replaces that of Greenland shown on the original Plate 94 in the Times Atlas. The new Greenland map is based partly on information about the location of ice margins and the Greenland coastlines, which has been prepared by GEUS.

The new ice-extent information is based on aero-photogrammetric maps and is updated to the 2011 situation using data from the MODIS instrument onboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.

"It's been an interesting job to help revise the map of Greenland in the Times Atlas," says glaciologist, Michele Citterio from GEUS, who, together with research colleagues, monitors the ice in the programme PROMICE - Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

"The new map for the atlas uses the best representation of ice margins that exists in this scale and they cover the whole of Greenland," he concludes.

But it is not just the ice margin on the new map of Greenland, which is based on Danish-produced data; Greenland's coastlines are also reproduced from a mapping by GEUS.

"The coastlines of the new Greenland Map for the Atlas are the best available," says geodesist, Willy Lehmann Weng from GEUS, and he continues:

"Our coastlines are based on a solid foundation from the National Survey and Cadastre in Denmark, and they correct the errors in the coastal location in North Greenland that affected several public domain data."

"We at Collins Geo are very grateful to Michele and Willy and everyone else at GEUS," says Keith Moore, Head of Cartographic Services at Collins Geo, HarperCollins Publishers.


Michele Citterio, GEUS
Phone: +45 38 14 21 13

Willy Lehmann Weng
Phone: +45 38 14 22 60

Read press release from HarperCollins

Read more about the monitoring programme PROMICE