Home Articles Regional Geographic Information Infrastructure in the Hindu Kush – Himalayan Region

Regional Geographic Information Infrastructure in the Hindu Kush – Himalayan Region

Peter Bitter and Basanta Shrestha
[email protected]

This paper outlines the role and present activities of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in general and its Mountain Environment Information Service (MENRIS) Division in particular. It then describes the current status of geographic information usage in the Hindu Kush – Himalayan (HKH) region in the context of present political and institutional arrangements and identifies the need to create a comprehensive Regional Geographic Information Infrastructure (RGII). The framework of such an infrastructure and a number of essential components are introduced. Some pragmatic steps to implement some of these components are discussed. Emphasis is being put on metadata, standards definition and generation of regional key data sets at 1:250,000 scale.

ICIMOD is an International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, which serves as a mountain development forum for the sustainable development of mountain areas in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan (HKH) Region. The HKH Region encompasses eight countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,China, India, Nepal, Myanamar and Pakistan) covering more than 3500-km range of high Himalayan region (see map in Appendix). Most of the area is sparsely populated and due to the very limited agricultural and industrial potentials, plagued by rampant poverty. Due to the topographic difficulties and the remoteness from bigger population centres, the infrastructure is weak as well.

The role of ICIMOD
One of the main functions of ICIMOD is to be a multi-disciplinary Centre for research and training on integrated mountain development based on the systematic exchange of knowledge through a organised information network. This part of Centre’s mandate is based on recognition of the increasing impoverishment of mountain communities in the HKH region and need for integrated and sustainable mountain development. ICIMOD is a facilitator of integrated/holistic approaches to mountain development and the chief commodity that the centre deals with is information.

The eight countries of the region are Members of ICIMOD; they delegate representatives into the Board of Governors. Through the Board, but perhaps even more through manifold contacts with scientific institutions and individuals, the centre is firmly anchored in the region. Internally, ICIMOD is structured into three thematic divisions (Mountain Farming Systems, Mountain Natural Resources, and Mountain Enterprise and Infrastructures). The thematic divisions are supported by a Documentation, Information and Training Service, the mountain Environment Natural Resources Information Systems Division (MENRIS), and the Administrative, Financial and Logistical Service.


Evolution of MENRIS
The Mountain Natural Resource Information Systems (MENRIS) division of ICIMOD has been established in 1991 with initial support from the Asian Development Bank, British Overseas Development Agency, German Technical Cooperation and UNEP-GRID. The objectives have been and continue to be to [1].

  • establish a network a nodal agencies in the regional member countries and serve as a resource centre to them
  • develop a database on geomorphology, soils, land use, vegetation and related factors through remote sensing techniques
  • develop mountain-specific applications of GIS
  • facilitate the application of GIS and RS and the use of the MENRIS database by the nodal agencies for environmental and natural resources planning, management and monitoring
  • Improve the co-ordination of regional and project-related mapping and the monitoring of projects introduced in the regional member countries by various international organisations.

In the first years, the main focus has been on installing the necessary hard- and software and on getting acquainted to the technology in ICIMOD itself. This has been followed by a phase of capacity building in the region: A Substantial training programme for professionals has been established gradually and complemented by short seminars for managers and policy-makers, and hard- and software has been supplied concurrently to partner institutions in the region. Further, a series of case studies has served as demonstration examples and for training purpose. More recently, these case studies have started to evolve into support of ‘real-world-applications’ of GIS in partner institutions.

Impact of MENRIS
Since its inception, MENRIS has established a strong reputation throughout the region for leadership in GIS technology and has clearly introduced a substantial number of institutions to effective use of technology [2]. Although there were some initiatives in using GIS in many of the plain areas of the ICIMOD Regional Member Countries, very few such initiative were seen in the mountain areas of the HKH Region. As such, it is extremely important to note that the initiative taken by ICIMOD as formulated in the Regional Collaborative Programme (RCP), in close collaboration with its national, regional and global partners is the first and foremost in the dissemination of GIS, Remote Sensing and Global Positioning System (GIS/RS/GPs) technologies throughout the HKH Region .

In the process of promoting an integrated approach to development and environment management in mountain areas, ICIMOD through its MENRIS program has served as a resource centre for the HKH Region for the study and application of the GIS, RS and GPS technologies. Its close contacts and collaboration with application research institutions space agencies and vendors have fostered the establishment of nodal agencies in participating Regional Member Countries (RMC) as part of the GIS/RS/GPS network of RCP, MENRIS has been able to make considerable impact, some of the important ones are listed below.

Awareness on the use of GIS/RS/GPS (3-5) technologies
One of the most important and noticeable impacts created by MENRIS under the RCP I framework is the awareness amongst senior decision-makers, middle-level managers and analysts about the usefulness of the modern technologies for improved decision-making. This has provided an initial thrust to eliminate infrastructural and institutional constraints on the use of geo-informatics technology in the region.

Bridging the data gap
MENRIS has been able to compile various bio-physical and socio-economic datasets at local and, to some extent, at national levels in close collaboration with the national institutions in the region. National institutions have felt the need to standardise data and information exchange. Efforts and initiatives are being made to develop various standards at local, national, and regional levels and to advocate for an open data policy.

Recognition as a Resource Centre
MENRIS has been playing a catalytic role as a regional coordinator resulting in the development of a mechanism to ensure non-duplication of efforts and information exchange among the institutions through a network approach. As a resource centre. MENRIS has one of the most advanced 3-S technology establishments in the region, a strong network of like-minded institutions within the region, and a host of international key partners and vendors.

Growth in user base and introduction of University level GIS courses
The GIS user base has grown considerably in the HKH over the past five years through prioritised MENRIS training programmes. Universities and educational sectors are getting attracted towards developing geo-informatics as a part of their curricula which will eventually contribute to sound human resources’ development in the region on a continuous basis.

Improved Institutional capacity and Network
Through its programme, MENRIS has been able to build the capabilities of national institutions in utilising geo-information technologies for sustainable mountain development. The region now consists of moderate capability to utilise modern technologies. The network formed by MENRIS is serving as a mechanism to bridge the gap between users, end-users and data providers.

Application of 3s-technologies in mountain-specific research and development
Under the collaboration with various other institutions, MENRIS has been able to develop mountain specific 3-s technology applications, which has clearly demonstrated the usefulness of these modern technologies. The applications thus developed are being replicated in other parts of the region.

Excellent linkages with global partners and vendors
Over the past several years, MENRIS has built up excellent linkages with external partners engaged in the generation of environmental and natural resources data and involved in geo- informatics technology. Some of the partners are UNEP, CSSTPE, ESRI, ERDAS, SPAND, ITC, NRSA, NASDA, AIT, UNIGIS, IDRC, etc.

Status of Geographic Information in the HKH region

Present status
Comparatively little has been achieved by MENRIS and others to date in terms of a comprehensive geographic database of the region . The many case studies were confined to particular project areas and the resulting datasets remained essentially patchwork. The few bits and pieces that actually are available are often not comparable from one country to another, or they are extracts from global datasets like the Digital Chart of the World or IGBP’s Global Land Cover [3] data. These datasets are typically of a 1:1 mio scale and have limited suitability for mountain areas with their high variability of conditions.

Considering the political situation, it is not surprising that data on territory and natural resources, like mapsor hydrological records have traditionally been highly sensitive material in most of ICIMOD’s Regional Member Countries. In some off them, large and medium scale maps are still completely off limits despite the fact that we have been down the age of reconnaissance satellite for quite some time.

Further, the mountain areas are marginal border zones of the bigger countries like China, India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, and consequently enjoy a relatively low priority on the agenda of the National Mapping Agencies.

But there are some rays of hope: Since Nepal has adopted an open data policy earlier, MENRIS has been able to build an extensive digital database of Nepal at 1:250,000 scale. Bangladesh and Bhutan have joined this open data policy recently and it seems that MENERIS will be able to populate the regional spatial data base with the from those countries as well.

Significant are also the very encouraging news that have come from India recently: The Government has set up a national task force on information technology which recommended, inter alia, that the Survey of India makes the existing digital topographic data at 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scales available to the public at no cost and without copyright restrictions. However, the Defence Ministry still has to overcome its reservations [4].

Standards, being essentially agreements on how things should be, guarantee a certain quality to the user (or buyer) of a dataset. They thus save the user from blindly trusting what he receives or investing lots of time into cumbersome quality assessments. For standards to be effective to that point, it is essential that they are widely recognised, and that claims of compliance are checked by independent bodies. Therefore the setting of standards requires the involvement of all major stakeholders. While National Mapping Agencies, being the only stakeholders, have long used standards in conventional mapping, the mushrooming of GIS projects and the diversity of data source has so far hindered the establishment of universally recognised standards for digital geospatial data. However, it is understood that the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has appointed a technical committee (TC211) to develop those standards. Standards on geospatial data should regulate at least:

  • The semantic data definition, e.g. what is a forest in a land cover map
  • The accuracy, both positional and thematic
  • The updatedness. i.e. the maximum age of the information
  • The data exchange formats, i.e. the technical description of the interface between different platforms.
  • The Data Documentation, i.e. the format and contents of Metadata
  • Institutions with trained staff

Obviously, the development and the maintenance of a spatial data infrastructure require institutions with qualified staff. Three main issues have to be addressed in GIS education and training programmes:

  • chnical officers must become ‘agents of change’, and they must be provided with the tools to be that; i.e. they must enjoy a certain liberty to develop and test new technologies, and they must be allowed to express their views. To avoid constant brain drain, they must also be remunerated according to market salaries.
  • Education has to be done concurrently at all levels of hierarchy within organisations (technical, middle and high management)
  • A critical mass of trained people (at least 10% of staff in any given institution) is required to overcome inevitable losses of highly qualified staff.

Moreover, the institutions also need to carefully re-think their business process. Using computers to mimic conventional workflows and management is normally not an efficient utilisation of the new technologies.

Coherent policies on a number of issues are a very important component of a spatial data infrastructure. While each of these issues can be solved in a variety of different ways with their own advantages and disadvantages, the important fact for the user is that there exists a coherent policy, on which he can base his investments. Policy issues are:

  • Access to and use of the spatial data infrastructure Who can get access to which spatial data? Where is the trade-off between the legitimate interests of security, development, and business? What kinds of use are permissible? How about privacy rights of the individual?
  • Copyright and liability: Unfortunately, there are no simple technical means to prevent the pirating of data. Moreover, under the prevailing laws on copyright, which demand a certain originality of a product to make it subject to copyright, it is often not clear whether spatial data which are a mere record of facts, are protected. The status of derived and value-added products is even less clear. Hence a clear copyright law that is specifically catering to digital data is necessary.
    On the other hand, the question of liability should be addressed. Is the producer of a Digital Elevation Model responsible if a plane crashes into a mountain because of an error in the model? Pricing and financing Information is a special kind of commodity: its use is non exclusive, the quantity is difficult to measure, and it has the character of a public good. Further, it is questionable if all users should be charged the same price. Therefore it is difficult to set a fair price, and the market doesn’t really play. This issues boils down to the question whether the spatial data infrastructure is considered a public utility that can be used by anybody regardless of his financial means, or a profit centre which has to recover its cost.
  • Education and awareness building Building a database of primary GIS data is a complex technical process which requires specialists. These are often detached from the potential users and find it difficult to bring the data or the results of their analysis into a format which is useful for the end users (e.g. policy makers). On the other hand, potential users are often unaware of the information and the analytical capacities that exist. Hence some efforts are required to carry the message outside the community of the technical people who actually deal with GIS and bridge the gap between producers and potential users of geographical information.
  • Research & Development A long-term perspective on applied research and development should be in place to facilitate adopti9on of new technologies and further development of applications and products.
  • Institutional Coordination Last, but not least, a strong institutional coordination is required. A spatial data infrastructure is a horizontal (i.e. cross-sectrol ) structure, its creation and use requires a joint effort of the various stakeholders. Contrarily, existing government machineries at all administrative levels are organized in a vertical manner along sectors, and they are structured hierarchically. Communication and cooperation between Departments is usually sketchy. This often leads to duplication of efforts and incompatibilities, the same old maps are being digitized over and over again by various institutions, but they do it according to different or no standards, so nothing fits together in the end.
    At any administrative level, the necessary coordination can be accomplished by establishing a steering committee and a coordinating agency or better: a coordinating inter-agency-committee at the technical level. In both bodies, the users should be represented prominently. The full backing of the supreme decision-making body at the respective administrative level is essential.

What kind of usage can be made from a regional geographic information infrastructure? This question can be answered from three different perspectives: GIS, science, and general development.

GIS perspective
From the relatively narrow perspective of the GIS profession, it can be said that an organised geographic information infrastructure would make GIS applications much more viable than they are now. We still spend around 80% of the money and time in any typical GIS project on building the database, and very little effort can go into analysing the data and putting the finding into action. Moreover, the time required to come out with some findings is usually measured in years rather than days – much more than any policy-maker can wait. Be efficiently using existing data, we could reduce this money and time investment significantly, and thus bringing GIS from the academic into the policy and business realms.

Science perspective
Scientists interested in the HKH region face the problem that the region as a whole is hardly a feasible unit of analysis. Hence they turn to case studies, where detailed process research is undertaken at large scales. However, this brings about two important issues: Selection of representative areas for case studies, and generalising the findings (‘upscaling’). In both these tasks a comprehensive geospatial database of the region would be very helpful.

General development and policy perspective
National Government, donors, and international organisations need good data and tools to identify target areas for their development projects. Moreover, the spatial impact of programmes and policies can be estimated and evaluated.

Finally, a greater abundance of spatial data on the HKH region will generally stimulate research in and thus assist development. Also, it will help to put and keep the mountain regions on the agendas of international organisations.

The above usages of the GII are not limited to any particular thematic fields: (potential) applications can be found in agriculture, social science, natural resources conservation and management, infrastructure development business, to name but a few.

Implementation Strategy
Some of the steps that have been envisaged in MENRIS are discussed below. The primary objectives of these activities are:

  • To increase the availability and accessibility of relevant geographic data on the region.
  • To enhance the exchange of geographic information within the region

The activities broadly fall under on e of these categories:

  • Capacity building
  • Facilitation of data exchange
  • Generation of regional key datasets

Capacity building
The substantial capacity-building activities that have been started in the previous programme will continue under the Regional Collaborative Programme 1999-2002 (RCP-2). However, it is hoped that the already existing curricula and training materials and the increasing availability of qualified staff in the partner institutions will gradually ease ICIMOD,s burden in this regard. The increasing prevalence of standard computers in government and academic offices will also gradually reduce the demands to supply such equipment. However, demands for software and special equipment (digitizers, plotters) will remain high.

Facilitation of data exchange

Metadata Server
A substantial amount of geographic information on the Himalayan region has been compiled by many institution, development co-operation projects, and individual researchers . To date, most of it exists in analogue form, but there is also a growing number of institutions and projects using GIS facilities to compile their own databses. The problem is that this valuable information is hardly accessible, especially after the end of the respective projects. Moreover, it can be extremely cumbersome to retrieve ancillary information; even such basic things as the projection system of a map are often unknown.

To improve the access to existing and new geographic data, MENRIS tries to take a lead to provide metadata services to the user community in and outside the region. This has also been one of the recommendations of the Space Informatics Seminar 1996 [7] which was held in Kathmandu.

In a first step, it is planned to document all the MENRIS data holdings. In a second phase, other existing data on the region shall be documented as well. This would not mean that ICIMOD actually holds that data, it just provides a pointer to the holding agency. It goes without saying that we are again dependent on the co-operation of our regional partner institutes and the many researchers outside the region. Finally, it is also envisaged to make this catalogue accessible through Internet.

The Metadata server shall document the following types of geographic data:

  • Internet GIS datasets on topography, geology and soils, land cover, hydrography, transportation, administrative units, settlements, socio-economic statistics.
  • Raw and geo-referenced satellite images which have been acquired by MENRIS or one of the partner institutions
  • Air photographs
  • Possibly also paper maps on themes as above (not decided yet)

In addition to that, the metadata server shall contain some general reference information like national mapping systems (geodetic datum, projection, sheet indices), satellite frame references, locations of GPS base stations, satellite receiving stations, addresses of institutions, etc.)

However, in order to be included in the metadata server, a dataset should fulfil certain minimal conditions:

  • Some degree of comprehensiveness in terms of area coverage and completeness: While it will be difficult to define an exact limit as to what shall be included, it clearly makes no sense to spend time on documenting trials and extremely local datasets.
  • The data Set must be accessible, at least under certain conditions that must be spelled out clearly. There is no point in documenting data that will not be released by the holding agency under any circumstances.

The metadata server shall include a menu-driven graphical user interface which allows simple geographical queries like: What data on landuse exists for my region of interest? or: is my area of interest completely covered by a particular satellite scene? this will be done by providing reference data (administrative boundaries, hydrography, topography) from existing global datasets, and the footprints of the datasets which are documented . The user will be enabled to select the reference data that he wants to display, and this will be filtered according to the currant map scale. Then he can select an area of interest and query the metadata base according to data type (as above), keyword (e.g. geology / landcover / topography etc.), scale, date, etc. and display the metadata of the query results.

Development and promotion of standardised applications
It is also planned to develop a number of standardised applications that can be adopted by institutions in the region. This would improve the comparability of geographic information being produced in the region. The focus will be on applications that produce information relating to phenomena that are a primary concern in large parts of the region:

  • Land cover mapping and monitoring from satellite images A system to incorporate DTMs, agro-ecological zonations and previous land cover maps into. A digital classification shall be developed. A primary requirement to ensure compatibility with other datasets is a precise rectification, including terrain distortions. In addition to the land cover map according to the standards as described in 6.3.1, the approach should also yield some measure of reliability as output.
  • Inventorying and monitoring of glacier lakes. Glacier lakes, or actually the risk of their sudden outburst (GLOFs), pose a serious threat to many settlements and infrastructures like hydroelectricity plants in the region. The use of satellite images for monitoring them has been demonstrated successfully [8] it is now a matter of standardising the methodology and promoting it.
  • Biodiversity mapping and monitoring. The preservation of the region’s richness in biodiversity is a growing concern. Yet there is not much known as to where exactly the ‘hot spots’ are that deserve particular attention. Some methods to use satellite images to assist in the mapping of biodiversity have been developed elsewhere [9], but need to be adapted to the extreme variability of the Himalayas.

Development and promotion of standardised applications
It is also planned to develop a number of standardised applications that can be adopted by institutions in the region. This would improve the comparability of geographic information being produced in the region. The focus will be on applications that produce information relating to phenomena that are a primary concern in large parts of the region:

  • Land cover mapping and monitoring from satellite images A system to incorporate DTMs, agro-ecological zonations and previous land cover maps into. A digital classification shall be developed. A primary requirement to ensure compatibility with other datasets is a precise rectification, including terrain distortions. In addition to the land cover map according to the standards as described in 6.3.1, the approach should also yield some measure of reliability as output.
  • Inventorying and monitoring of glacier lakes. Glacier lakes, or actually the risk of their sudden outburst (GLOFs), pose a serious threat to many settlements and infrastructures like hydroelectricity plants in the region. The use of satellite images for monitoring them has been demonstrated successfully [8] it is now a matter of standardising the methodology and promoting it.
  • Biodiversity mapping and monitoring. The preservation of the region’s richness in biodiversity is a growing concern. Yet there is not much known as to where exactly the ‘hot spots’ are that deserve particular attention. Some methods to use satellite images to assist in the mapping of biodiversity have been developed elsewhere [9], but need to be adapted to the extreme variability of the Himalayas.

Establishment of Data Standards
With regard to the envisaged regional geographic database, standards are required to ensure the compatibility of the data which will be created by various institutions (see 6.3.2). To save time and effort and to achieve interoperability with the ‘outside world’, existing standards shall be adopted as far as possible and modified only where absolutely necessary. Standards are required primarily in three fields:

  • Topographic base data. In order to produce a homogenous topographic database of the region, the semantics of the individual elements should be clearly defined (e.g. what is considered a highway, what is a secondary road). Such standards already exist and could be adopted without much change. However, one has to bear in mind that the topographic database will be compiled from very different primary sources with their own inherent standards which will not always easily translate, and the various national mapping agencies will show little inclination to change their own standards in the near future. Thus the pragmatic short-term solution will be to find out what is the smallest common denominator. However, a more proactive role can be taken with regard to the purely technical aspects, like data format, digitising accuracy, etc.
  • Maetdata. The situation looks more promising with regard to metadata standards. Since this is a relatively new topic, there is not much of a legacy to be carried with, and a more forward-looking approach can be taken. Since, for the time being, the primary focus on will be cataloguing rather than detailed documentation functions and also in view of our institutional affiliations with UNEP/GRID, a decision has been taken to adopt NASA’s Director Interchange Format (DIF) ‘standard’ for metadata [10]. This will also allow interoperation with metadata parsers that are based on the more comprehensive FGDC standard [11] or level 1 of the upcoming ISO standard [12].
  • Land cover classification. The idea here is to develop a land cover classification scheme that can be implemented with reasonable accuracy by digital classification of satellite imagery. Since the envisaged scale is 1:250,000, imagery of medium to low resolution, such as IRS-WiFS or NOAA AVHRR shall be used. The emphasis will be on relatively frequent monitoring of large areas rather than detailed land use mapping for the purpose of planning; hence the precision of the classes will be limited. What is important is ‘upward compatibility’ to global land cover classifications, like those of IGBP.

Compilation of homogenous key datasets
ICIMOD is also trying to compile a number of multi-purpose geospatial datasets at a scale of 1:250’000. These are datasets which play a key role in ICIMOD’s and other institution’s research on mountain development and mountain environment. Some examples are:

  • Administrative units (mainly as a base to visualise statistical data)
  • Transportation network
  • Hydrography: rivers and hydrological records (as far as available)
  • Digital Elevation Model (DEM): A DEM is an essential item in almost all mountain-related GIS and RS applications : Modelling of soil erosion, slope instability, acceptable land use intensity, hydrological flows, but also precise processing of satellite images all require a DEM of suitable resolution.

The GTOPO 30 model of the USGS is currently the only model that covers the whole region. However, NASA/JPL are planning to acquire new InSAR data through a shuttle mission in 1999 and produce a global DEM of 1 “resolution [13]. It is understood that a reduced-resolution version (3″) will be made available at nominal cost, which will be an enormous benefit to ICIMOD and the region. The resolution of 3” would also allow the computation of derivaties (slope, aspect) at sufficient accuracy for the envisaged database scale of 1:250’000.

  • Land cover The Indian IRS WiFS data of 188 m resolution seems to offer a good compromise between resolution and manageability of the amount of data, and it would fit neatly into the regional database of 1:250’000 scale. However, the only two spectral bands pose a limit with regard to interpretability. First trial classification have indicated that water bodies, snow, barren land, sparse vegetation, forests, rainfed and irrigated agriculture can be differentiated. It is hoped that the use of auxiliary data such as agro-ecological zonations and DEMs can improve the classification. On the other hand, the combination with satellite land cover data will also help to evaluate the agro-ecological zonation.
    Major problems are the availability of satellite images (both technically and logistically), and the difficulty to do any ground truth studies at this scale.
  • Inventory of biodiversity and protected areas.
  • Inventory of glacier lakes

Since the staffing and funding situation of MENRIS is extremely constrained, a collaborative approach has to be taken. This means that most of the actual work to create the datasets has to be done by the partner institutions in the region; the role of ICIMOD will be limited to one of the catalyst. The standards and standardised methodologies as listed above are expected to ensure consistent data quality

Conclusions and Perspectives
GIS and related technologies have improved the capabilities of handling geographic information, and they have made it necessary for different stakeholders to re-examine their roles with respect to the supply and availability of such information. The demand for good, reliable and homogenous geographic data on mountain areas has been established clearly in scientific circles and international organisations. However, in the case of the Hindu Kush – Himalayan region there is at present hardly any corresponding drive from the governing political institutions. The prevailing security concerns have traditionally been inhibiting the creation of and dissemination of geographic data.

As those restrictions are gradually easing, more qualified manpower becomes available, and an increasing number of local and national geographic databases are being built in the region, it is felt that the time is right to start building a regional spatial data infrastructure for the benefit of scientific and international organisations . In the absence of large budgets and grand designs, a pragmatic approach shall be taken by MENRIS/ICIMOD to integrate existing pieces and improve their accessibility. It is envisaged that MENRIS will assume a clearinghouse function for the region mainly by providing metadata services and continued networking of professionals in the region.

A limited number of generic datasets shall be created mainly existing maps and from remote sensing images.


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  10. NASA(1998): Directory interchange Format (DIF) Formal syntax Specification v6.0. docs/dif syntax spec.html
  11. FGDC (1998): Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (versioon 2.0). FGDC-STD-001-1998,
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  13. ] JPL (1998): Shuttle radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Jet Propulsion Lab, https://www-radar.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/


AIT   Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok
AVHRR Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
CSSTPE Centre for Space Science and Technology Education
DEM Digital Elevation Model
DIF Directory Interchange Format
DTM Digital Terrain Model
FAO Food and Agriculture Oroganization (of the United Nations)
FGDC Federal Geographic Data Committee (USA)
GIS Geographic Information System
GLOF Glacier Lake Outburst Flood
GPS Global Positioning System
GRID Global Resources Information Database (UNEP)
GTOPO30 Global Topographic Elevation Model of 30 arcseconds resolution
HKH Hindu Kush-Himalaya
ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
IDRC International Development Research Centre, Canada
IGBP International Geosphere – Biosphere Programme
InSAR International Synthetic Aperture Radar
IRS Indian Remote Sensing Satellite
ITC International Instute for Aerospace surveys and Earth Science, The Netherlands
JPL Jet Propulsion Lab (USA)
MENRIS Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information Systems Division
NASA National Space and Aeronautic Administration (USA)
NASDA National Space Development Agency (Japan)
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA)
NRSA National Remote Sensing Agency (India)
RCP Regional Collaborative Programme (of ICIMOD)
RGII Regional Geographic Information infrastructure
RMC Regional Member Countries (of ICIMOD)
RS Remote Sensing
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
WiFS Wide Field Sensor