About Quantarctica

Quantarctica is a collection of Antarctic geographical datasets, and works with QGIS. It is free for non-commercial use, such as research, education, and operation in Antarctica. Quantarctica was originally developed for in-house use at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Development on a public version started in 2012, and the first version was released in 2013. The current version (2.0) was released in August 2014.


Geographical Information System (GIS) software is designed to capture, store, analyze and view all types of geographical data. 

QGIS is a great free alternative to commercial ones: Open source, cross-platform, user-friendly and fully capable as a data viewer and data analyzer. Since its release in 2002, the developer community has grown steadily, and remains active. For you, that means regular updates and a variety of available plugins.

It also works without Internet access, so you can bring your GIS software to remote areas during field campaigns.

The Quantarctica package

The Quantarctica dataset collection comprises Antarctic geographic data from data centres worldwide – all wrapped in a project file that works on QGIS. (QGIS, previously named Quantum GIS + Antarctica = Quantarctica.)

It includes:

  • Geography data
    E.g. place name, facility, grounded ice, ice shelf, outcrops

  • Satellite images
    Continental-wide mosaics and high-resolution images

  • Glaciology data
    E.g. ice thickness, ice-flow speed, subglacial lakes

  • Geophysics data
    E.g. geoid heights, magnetic anomalies

No internet access is required for using the dataset. Just download, and you're good to go!


Your own data can easily be included. Therefore, Quantarctica provides a nice platform for your own GIS package.

So far, we've used Quantarctica to:

  • Examine geographical data at a range of scales (continental to local)
  • Prepare maps for publications and proposals
  • View project data together with continental datasets
  • Plot GPS-provided current positions with satellite images and other scientific data during field campaigns (real-time GPS positioning using a QGIS plugin)

It could also be a useful tool for teaching about Antarctica in classrooms.

Terms of use

The Quantarctica package is available for free for non-commercial use. Please acknowledge the Norwegian Polar Institute, as well as the specific datasets origins when using Quantarctica in your work.

Individual datasets distributed in Quantarctica have different terms and conditions. See metadata files in each data folder and contact the data providers for further clarification of terms and conditions if necessary.


Unless otherwise mutually agreed to by the parties in writing and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, licensor offers the work as-is and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the work, express, implied, statutory or otherwise, including, without limitation, warranties of title, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, noninfringement, or the absence of latent or other defects, accuracy, or the presence of absence of errors, whether or not discoverable. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so this exclusion may not apply to you.

Except to the extent required by applicable law, in no event will licensor be liable to you on any legal theory for any special, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages arising out of this license or the use of the work, even if licensor has been advised of the possibility of such damages.