LIDAR in the Pines - very cool

Boyd

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With a little time to kick back during the holidays, I'm finally checking out something pretty cool from the USGS - 1/9 arc-second LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) radar elevation data. This is very high resolution imagery (about 10 feet per pixel) that shows the surface of the earth with striking clarity. Coverage is limited - this is what I have available for now (I put a couple roads in just to orient you). There are different ways this can be rendered - in the first two images I've used "Atlas Shading", which is false color based on elevation.




Zoomed out this far, you can't appreciate the detail though. Here's a closer view of a famous "mountain" in the Pines. Extra credit if you recognize it (no cheating! :) )




What's really cool is that this is like x-ray vision and you can see beneath the trees. I assume the north-south lines are firebreaks in the image above? This is Washington. Unless my eyes are deceiving me, the resolution is high enough to show cellar holes.



This is actually three dimensional data, so it's possible to do 3d renderings of it. Extra credit again if you can name the hill in the lower left and the mountain range behind it, in what looks like an alien landscape - I have applied some vertical exaggeration to make it a bit more dramatic :)



Naturally, my first inclination is to turn this into a map. I'll have to experiment a bit to find the best way to do that. But I'm also wondering... would this imagery be too accessible if it were loaded on a GPS and would it encourage people to go places where they shouldn't? This is a topic that Guy and I have discussed in the past.

What do you think?...
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(Ben - evidently this is available via WMS if you want to include it in NJPB Live Maps. See: http://seamless.usgs.gov/service_access_list.php?serviceid=Dataset_19&dataset=NED 1/9 Arc-Second)
 

Teegate

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That second and third one has some interesting potential for sure! Especially the third one.

Guy
 

Boyd

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Indeed. Everything shown in the first (atlas) image is covered at that same resolution, so it's a bit like seeing the pines naked, with all her secrets exposed.
 

Boyd

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Well, sure. That's just a low resolution image for the web. I didn't mean *that* image, I meant the source data covering that area is all at the same resolution as the third image. It would be a 500MB file, so I can't insert that into my post. :)
 

Teegate

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Lets discuss this. I am using that seamless viewer and trying to get it to view like the third photo. Is that the viewer I should be using?

Guy
 

Boyd

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Played some more, and it does seem to work - SLOWLY. Uncheck everything under Layer Extent, then go to the Elevation tab and uncheck GTOPO60. Check NED Shaded Relief (1/9 arc second).

Seems to work. But you have to wait a long time to render the image each time you click to zoom. At first it just renders a bunch of big gray blocks, so you think it isn't working. Like I said, I don't have enough patience to stick with it. :)

I am zoomed in to the max. If/when it completes rendering the image, I'll post a screenshot.
 

Teegate

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That is what I was using. I just can't find the setting to look like photo 3. When I zoom in on anything close it is blurry.

Guy
 

manumuskin

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Boyd,
This is awesome,especially the third pic down.Can you make maps with Globalmapper free version or do you have to swing the 300- bucks for the pay version?
I cannot get that kind of shot you have in pic 3 to show on the screen.what imagery is that?Survey lines will jump right out at you with this imagery.
al
 

Teegate

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Played some more, and it does seem to work - SLOWLY. Uncheck everything under Layer Extent, then go to the Elevation tab and uncheck GTOPO60. Check NED Shaded Relief (1/9 arc second).

Seems to work. But you have to wait a long time to render the image each time you click to zoom. At first it just renders a bunch of big gray blocks, so you think it isn't working. Like I said, I don't have enough patience to stick with it. :)

I am zoomed in to the max. If/when it completes rendering the image, I'll post a screenshot.
I got it working. It is slow as you say, but it works. Thanks!

Guy
 

Teegate

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Al,

If you get it working as Boyd explains, go to Orthoimagery and check DRG Scanned Maps. This will give you a topo and you can zoom around and find the location you want. Then uncheck DRG Scanned Maps and you are back to the view you want. This makes it easy to find your way around

Guy
 

Boyd

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Yes, I believe the free download of Globalmapper will let you access this on your computer with no problem. You just won't be able to export it out for any other purpose. The download procedure is rather confusing and frustrating though (after all, it's a guverment website :dance:)

Also just to clarify, when you use the online viewer "it is what it is". I have been experimenting with different ways to render these images in Globalmapper, so that's where the "atlas" shading came from.

To download the raw imagery:

Go to http://seamless.usgs.gov/website/seamless/viewer.htm

Zoom in on the area you want. Then use the first selection tool on the left under "Downloads" - looks like a box with an arrow pointing to it. You draw a rectangle around what you want. I suggest you zoom way in, then just draw a tiny box for starters. Otherwise you may choose more than it allows and you will get a bewildering number of different requests.

After selecting, You will get a "Request summary page". Do NOT click the download button here. Instead, click "Modify Data Request" at the top of the page. Wait a few seconds while it displays the whole long list. Under "Elevation" you must first UN-CHECK "NED 1 Arc Second". That's the default and it's very low resolution. Put a check next to the 1/9 Arc Second box, then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click "Save changes and Return to Summary".

You should now see a list of everything available for the area you chose. Click the download buttons and wait until your browser puts up a download window. It may take awhile. Remember, only limited areas are covered so there may not be any data for what you chose.

If this doesn't work, be sure you are following these steps EXACTLY. After downloading you will have a zip file. Just use "Open your own data files" in Globalmapper and it will do the rest for you. No need to unzip the files.

You can try different shaders using the dropdown menu at the top of the GLobalmapper window - Atlas should be the default. You can create your own shaders also. For even more fun, try View > 3d View. :)
 

Boyd

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I kind thought you guys would like this. :)

Ben could easily add it to the NJPB Live Maps - see the link in my first post. But I suspect he's got more important things on his mind at the moment. And the data still comes from the same place, so it would probably be just as slow.
 

Boyd

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Naturally, my first inclination is to turn this into a map. I'll have to experiment a bit to find the best way to do that.)
Here we are a year later, so I wanted to update this old thread. Having finished the big update to my Map of New Jersey, I decided to see if I could make a map from the LIDAR data. It's been an interesting although time-consuming and often frustrating project so far. My thought was to do this in a way that would work on all Garmin devices and not be limited to the new models like the Oregon (it is pretty easy to make a "custom map" for these new units, but the size of such a map is limited and it won't work on older units or in Mapsource).

So I've developed my own methodology and even written some software to massage the data. This is data-intensive stuff... in order to keep the quality of the original images, a garmin format map covering one USGS 24k quad contains over 3 million polygons! I now have it looking surprisingly good on the computer... You've probably never seen anything quite like this in Mapsource before :D



Unfortunately, I'm not making out so well on the GPS itself.



This amount of data just brings it to its knees and zooming an panning is like slow motion. But worse, the GPS can't render the same level of quality as the computer for some reason. It looks like abstract art... interesting, but not very useful. So this is going to take awhile, but I'm working on it and hopefully will find some solutions so we can use this cool LIDAR imagery out in the pines. :)