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Lidar for Science and Resource Management

Methodology for Processing and Publication of Lidar Data

In order to investigate impacts of hurricanes, extreme storms, and sea-level rise along the coast of the continental United States, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP), through the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards Project, and in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has acquired laser altimetry (lidar) data since 1995 to identify and quantify the vulnerability of U.S. shorelines. Two systems developed by NASA have primarily been used in this data acquisition effort. Through 2001, the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) was used to acquire dense topographic data along the coastline. The ATM is a first-return-only light detection and ranging (lidar) system capable of surveying beach topography over hundreds of kilometers of coast in a single day. The Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) system, used for coastline mapping after extreme storm events since 2001, is capable of acquiring submerged and sub-aerial topography data in a single overflight. Although the immensity of the data set presents challenges, topographic products derived from lidar data are actively being used in ongoing studies of coastal change caused by both catastrophic storms and processes that operate over historical time scales.

The broad usefulness of lidar surveys can be inhibited by the enormity of the data sets. Initially, the raw data are processed, filtered, and edited using the ALPS software. In order to make these newly-refined data available to the research community and the general public in a format that is fully documented and usable in standard Geographic Information System (GIS) software, DVD-based GIS products for each lidar survey are being created and published as a USGS Data Series (DS). These Data Series DVDs offer HTML files for viewing in a web browser, as well as GeoTIFF, las, and xyz data sets (and associated FGDC-compliant metadata) that can be downloaded for use with GIS.

Once published, the Data Series are accessible online and available as DVDs. Please contact Emily Klipp (eklipp@usgs.gov) to request a copy.

Sample Pages from Data Series

Home page view of a Data Series DVD

On the home page of each Data Series DVD, an index map shows the data in its entirety.

Index map example (DS 418) [larger version]

An area of interest may be chosen by clicking on a highlighted tile

An area of interest may be chosen by clicking on a highlighted tile, which will open an enlargement of that specific area and offer links to download the data.

Tile example (DS 418) [larger version]

On some Data Series DVDs, a mosaic of the data is available

On some Data Series DVDs, a mosaic of the data is available (based on space availability). This feature allows all of the data to be downloaded as one GeoTIFF.

Mosaic example (DS 418) [larger version]

Actual data from the corresponding survey are used to create the background images of the Data Series DVD labels
Actual data from the corresponding survey are used to create the background images of the Data Series DVD labels (as shown above). [larger version]

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