Alaska Has Finally Been Mapped as Precisely as Mars
New topographic maps made from satellite data will help the state monitor—and plan for—its eroding coastlines and melting permafrost.
Exactly one year ago, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to set foot above the Arctic Circle, visiting the small town of Kotzebue on Alaska's northwest coast. At least we think that's where he was. Alaska, like much of the Arctic, is remote, often ice- and fog-bound, and is therefore among the poorest mapped places on the planet. Some of the coastal charts still use data compiled by Captain Cook. We actually have far better topographic maps of Mars and the moon than we do of the 49th state. During his visit, the president promised that the government could do better.
On Thursday, the government delivered: The White House, the National