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Moving The National Map Forward. Mark Myers Director U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Surveying and Mapping Conference Anchorage, AK February 25, 2008. U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey. Mapping – A basic function of government.

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Moving The National Map Forward

Mark Myers


U.S. Geological Survey

Alaska Surveying and Mapping Conference

Anchorage, AK

February 25, 2008

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey

mapping a basic function of government
Mapping – A basic function of government

Thomas Hutchins appointed Geographer of the United States by the Continental Congress in 1781. Federal geographic expeditions continued through Lewis and Clark to the Great Western Surveys.

Hayden Survey Pack Train on the Yellowstone River, 1871


A Topographic Map for the Nation

  • John Wesley Powell
  • USGS Director, 1881-94
  • Articulated the vision and began the development of a U.S. national map

Powell on National Mapping

  • Testimony to Congress on December 5, 1884
  • “A Government cannot do any scientific work of more value to the people at large, than by causing the construction of proper topographic maps of the country”

Gerald FitzGerald

Chief Alaskan Topographer, 1938-42

Chief Topographic Engineer, USGS, 1947-57

Once-over mapping was an immense feat

The only national synthesis of geography that is




Border to border, coast to coast

Cost of replication today would be $2 to $3 billion

USGS Topographic Maps

seeking synergy in science
Seeking synergy in science

Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative - New York Times

February 8, 2006


Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century

Copper prices set another recordBy Dale Funk, Contributing EditorApr 1, 2006 12:00 PMWhile most wire and cable industry veterans and commodity analysts expected 2006 to be a year of moderation for copper prices, when copper jumped 9.45 cents to nearly $2.36 a pound on March 17 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, it set another record.

A British experts report on climate change warns that failure to curb global warming could trigger worldwide economic devastation, with poor countries hit first and hardest.  Prime Minister Tony Blair called for urgent international action.


USGS Science Strategy Directions

Understanding Ecosystems and Predicting Ecosystem Change

Energy and Minerals for America’s Future

A National Hazards, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

The Role of Environment and Wildlife in Human Health

A Water Census of the United States

Climate Variability and Change

Data Integration and Beyond


TheNational Map – essence

A collaborative effort to improve and deliver topographic information for the nation.

The goal…

trusted, nationally consistent,

integrated, current

geospatial information

available online for a broad range of uses.

the national map elements
TheNational Map - elements
  • A contribution to the NSDI
  • Includes eight data layers: hydrography, elevation, imagery, geographic names, boundaries, transportation, land cover, structures
  • Provides public domain data to support
    • USGS topographic maps at 1:24,000-scale
    • Products and services at multiple scales and resolutions
    • Analysis, modeling and other applications at multiple scales and resolutions
  • Built on partnerships and standards

The National Map - vision

  • A seamless, continuously maintained,nationally consistent set of base geographic data
  • Developed and maintained through partnerships
  • A national foundation for science, land and resource management, recreation, policy making, homeland security
  • Available over the Internet
  • The source for revised topographic maps
three initiatives for the national map
Three initiatives for The National Map
  • Imagery for the Nation (IFTN)
  • LiDAR for the Nation (LFN)
  • National Land Imaging Program (NLIP)
imagery for the nation iftn
Imagery for the Nation (IFTN)
  • A vision for a sustainable and flexible digital imagery program for the nation
  • Would advance The National Map imagery goals much more rapidly through predictable sustained funding
  • IFTN goals for predictable coverage and standard products align with the goals of TNM
  • The USGS supports IFTN, recognizes the challenges of imagery acquisition in Alaska
  • USGS POC – George Lee, 650-329-4255,
lidar for the nation initiative
LIDAR for the Nation Initiative

A complete, consistent, current, high res LIDAR dataset would have great value for multiple stakeholders in many applications.

Program would involve partners

from local, state, fed agencies;

private sector, academia.

Acquired data in public domain

(no licensing restrictions)

USGS CLICK website provides information for LiDAR community

USGS POC – Greg Snyder, 703-648-5169,


Plan for a National Land Imaging Program

  • Proposal for DOI to manage U.S. civil-operational land imaging
  • Endorsed by the Office of the President (OSTP)
  • USGS POCBruce Quirk,
future guidance for the national map key sources
Future guidance for The National Map – key sources
  • National Research Council (NRC) report: A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey
  • National Geospatial Advisory Committee – DOI led
  • Geospatial Line of Business

Alaska – different from the lower 48Historically lacking in hi-res geospatial data

  • Economy dependent on resource development
  • Infrastructure poor
  • High percentage of Federal lands
  • Challenges of vast, remote landscape
    • Resource storehouse
    • Permafrost warming
    • Increased coastal erosion
    • Glaciers thinning, retreating
    • Forest fires
    • Insect infestations

Coastal Erosion

Drew Point - 2004

Gary Clow photo (USGS)

Undercutting & Collapse of Permafrost Blocks


50 Years of Coastal Erosion

Note: Barrier island north of Pogik Bay not included

moving forward for alaska
Moving Forward for Alaska
  • Integrated analyses of AK issues demand more comprehensive geospatial data
    • Energy and mineral exploration, development
    • Natural resources – forests, fish, wildlife
    • Cultural resources
    • Emergency, natural hazard response
    • Bellwether region for global climate change

USGS Alaska Science Center


moving forward together
Moving Forward Together
  • Improving technical, collaborative aspects of The National Map
    • Including Alaskan geospatial community
  • Improving USGS geospatial partnerships in AK
    • National Map Customer Research Projectinitial meeting here
    • Full-time USGS Geospatial Liaison
    • USGS to become a partnerAK Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative