Object-based physiographic classification of the Earth

Submitted by admin on March 29, 2011 - 10:31
Preview global physiography

A group of researchers at the Center for Geoinformatics (Salzburg University) have recently produced a global physiographic classification map at a resolution of 1 km. Classification results are embedded within a web application available at the following address


Here you will find the following layers:

  1.  Global_Level3. This is the finest scale at the global level. Object boundaries are transparent to enhance visualization at full extent;
  2. GlobalLevel_objectsEvaluation. This is the same layer as above, with object boundaries on. It helps in evaluating the match with land-surface discontinuities;
  3.  Results of classification of the Austrian territory at all scale levels;
  4.  Country Boundaries - for orientation;
  5.  ESRI_ShadedRelief - to visualize topography. Please be aware that this classification was obtained form SRTM data at approximately 1 km resolution, while the shaded relief map is much finer in some areas (see http://server.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/ESRI_ShadedRelief_World_2D/MapServer). Therefore, some discrepancies might be apparent.

The authors would like to tune the results to specific applications, by using the object attributes, without a need of running the classification again. Potential domains of application include Landscape Ecology, Ecology, Geomorphology, Geology, Hydrology, Soil Science, and Agriculture. You can visualize the results and fill in a questionairre under the red button named ‘Please provide your feedback here.’ The online evaluation is opened until 1st of May 2011. After evaluation, both the database and the tool will be released for free download.


In November 2008, an $18 million grant has been obtained from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to map most parts in Sub-Sahara Africa, and make all Sub-Saharan Africa data available. From this grant there are also funds for coordinating global efforts and for the establishment of a global consortium. Several institutions have assumed a leading role in this effort and have made substantial financial and in-kind contributions.

Our main donors: