The 3D National Topography Model

Submitted by atripp on

The goal of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is to complete acquisition of nationwide lidar (IfSAR in Alaska) to provide the first-ever national baseline of consistent high-resolution elevation data—both bare earth and 3D point clouds—collected in a timeframe of less than a decade. Thanks in large part to partner investments from Federal, State, local, and other partners, over 80% of the Nation, including 100% of Alaska, has available or in progress elevation data that meet 3DEP specifications for high accuracy and resolution. As the 3DEP baseline dataset approaches completion, the USGS is developing a vision for the 3D National Topography Model (3DNTM), a new initiative that updates and integrates USGS elevation and hydrography data to model the Nation in 3D. The 3DNTM is the terrestrial component of the joint USGS and NOAA 3D Nation vision to provide a continuous elevation surface from the depths of our waters to the peaks of our mountains. The 3DNTM will integrate elevation and hydrography data to underpin critical applications including flood forecasting, mitigation, and response; 3D geologic modeling; and other applications. It will better support the National Water Model, National Water Census, drought forecasts, and water availability visualization and analyses.  The 3DNTM development tracks include the completion of current baseline 3DEP and National Hydrography Datasets, piloting the integration of elevation and hydrography data, and developing the 3D Hydrography Program and next generation of 3DEP, including inland bathymetry, hydrography derived from lidar, and connections to groundwater and engineered hydrologic systems.

Bathymetric lidar point cloud for the Kootenai River, Idaho. The bathymetry lidar points are shaded by depth, and the topographic lidar points are shaded by RGB values from concurrent aerial photography.

Conceptual graphic representing the 3D National Topography Model (3DNTM) and the many science applications that the 3DNTM will support.


Author Name
Cindy Thatcher
Author Email