Dataset: The collection of aerial photographs held by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre


Aerial photography has been an important means of acquiring spatial data in Antarctica and the subantarctic islands, though satellite imagery is playing an increasingly important role.

The Australian Antarctic Data Centre's collection of aerial photographs includes (but is not limited to) the following.

1 Vertical and oblique aerial photography of the Australian Antarctic Territory coastline and some inland areas, acquired by the US Navy during Operation Highjump in 1946/47.

2 Vertical and oblique aerial photography flown by National Mapping (now part of Geoscience Australia) during 1954 - 1965 from fixed wing aircraft, mainly using a K17 trimetrigon camera. From 1960 the vertical camera in the system was replaced with a Wild RC9. An Eagle V camera was also used in 1963. The photography was acquired along the Australian Antarctic Territory coastline and over the Prince Charles Mountains.

3 Comprehensive and systematic coverages of the Prince Charles Mountains and Enderby Land flown by National Mapping from a fixed wing aircraft in the 1970s using a Wild RC 9 camera.

4 Photography acquired since 1977 from helicopters using non-metric Hasselblad and Linhof cameras. This photography was acquired principally for life science research and was not intended to be used for mapping. The photography was acquired over Heard Island, Macquarie Island, the Larsemann Hills, the Windmill Islands, the Vestfold Hills and Mawson Coast.

5 Photography acquired since 1992/93 by the Australian Antarctic Division and AUSLIG (now part of Geoscience Australia) from helicopters using a Zeiss UMK camera. It has been used to acquire photography for large scale mapping of the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard Island and Macquarie Island.

6 Photography acquired since 2000 by the Australian Antarctic Division from helicopters using a Wild RC8 camera. A revision of the guidelines for overflight heights over animal colonies required that animal census photography be done with a camera with a longer focal length than the Linhof camera previously used for this type of work. This was in order to maintain the same scale at a greater height. The Wild RC8 camera has also been used for photography for mapping at the Windmill Islands.

7 Photography of sea ice acquired since 2003 by the Australian Antarctic Division from helicopters using a digital Nikon D1X digital camera.

8 Photography of Adelie penguin colonies and other features acquired since 2009/10 by the Australian Antarctic Division from helicopters using a digital Hasselblad H3D-II 50 digital camera.

Digital flight lines and photo centres have been generated to represent the runs along which the photographs were taken and the centres of the photographs.

The photos are scanned on a needs basis. Most of the Operation Highjump photos have been scanned but overall a minority of the photos have been scanned. Preview images have been created of the scanned photos. The scanning of the Operation Highjump photos is described by a separate metadata record: 'Digital images of Operation Highjump aerial photography'.

The collection can be searched in two ways.

1 A web search - see Aerial Photograph Catalogue link below. Preview images of the scanned photos may be viewed using this search. In addition to the search, the Catalogue has tabs with information about viewing or obtaining photographs, the cameras used and further historical information.

2 The flight line and photo centre data can be downloaded as shapefiles (refer to url below) and overlaid on topographic data in GIS software such as ArcGIS. The Australian Antarctic Data Centre (AADC) has mainly large to medium scale data topographic data available for download - refer to url below.

There are some flight lines for which photo centres have not yet been generated and some photo centres for which flight lines have not yet been generated. This is being done gradually over time. The flight line and photo centre shapefiles available for download will be updated about every six months.

Also available for download is a document with information about the cameras and a timeline for the photography - refer to url below.

General Information