USGS to receive $14.6 million in Recovery Act funding for high resolution LiDAR elevation data

Apr 29, 2009

The U.S. Department of Interior Recovery Investments site breaks down how the U.S. Geological Survey will be spending the approximately $140 million they are receiving as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Among the various USGS programs that will be receiving funding is $14.6 million devoted to "Imagery and Elevation Maps". Specifically, this funding will go towards acquisition of high resolution LiDAR topography and orthoimagery to enhance the National Elevation Dataset component of the The National Map.

The National Elevation Dataset (NED), one of eight base layers of The National Map, provides basic elevation information for earth science studies and mapping applications for the United States. Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology allows the creation of contours down to increments as low as 1-foot with great accuracy and precision, permitting more accurate mapping of flood zones and inundation areas. The addition of highly accurate elevation data acquired with lidar will greatly improve the NED, both in the enhanced quality of the data and in the range of science and data applications that it will enable.

I have not yet seen information on how the USGS will determine which portions of the US are to be targeted for LiDAR acquisitions with this funding, but it is clear that coastal regions and floodplains are likely to be high priority targets.