3D Elevation Program

3DEP Role in Disaster Preparation, Mitigation and Recovery

A core mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to provide information that leads to reduced loss of life and damage to property and infrastructure from hazards like landslides, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Decision-makers in government and the private sector increasingly depend on information the USGS provides before, during, and following disasters so that communities can live, work, travel, and build safely. USGS Natural Hazards programs conduct assessments, pursue investigations and forecasts, provide technical assistance to respond to emergencies, and engage in outreach. All of these activities depend on a detailed and accurate understanding of the landscape. The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is working toward an 8-year goal to provide a nationwide baseline of high-quality three-dimensional elevation information in the form of light detection and ranging (lidar), and in Alaska, interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IfSAR) data. 3DEP data support a broad range of hazards applications that improve information delivered to decision-makers and the public.

The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-123), was signed by the President on February 9, 2018. This funding provided $42.2 million to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for equipment repair and replacement, high-resolution elevation data collection in both hurricane and wildfire impacted areas, and scientific studies and assessments that will support recovery and rebuilding decisions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the California Wildfires. Supplemental funding is being leveraged with partner contributions to complete data coverage of the impacted areas.

 

2018 Hurricane and Wildfire Supplemental Funding for 3DEP Lidar Acquisition 

Partnerships to Extend Supplemental Funding

​The USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP) ​is partnering with Federal, State and other ​agencies to augment supplemental funding to complete coverage of the impact and adjacent areas​.  ​​​The 3DEP Working Group and​​ Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) process resulted in a total of $28.8M in partnerships​.  Partner funding together with​ $3.4M ​appropriated ​NGP funding​ comprise 61 percent and supplemental funding provides 39 percent of overall project costs.  

San Juan Area Before Hurricane Maria

San Juan area before Hurricane Maria  The colors come from the elevation, from blue (lowest) to green, to brown to white (tallest), the shading comes from intensity.  New data being collected with supplemental funding can be compared to the existing data to identify and quantify changes.

Lidar Applications for Hurricane Recovery

The Gulf and Atlantic coastal regions of the United States are recovering from the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and are at the same time vulnerable to future hurricane impacts.  High-resolution elevation data are critical for hazard mitigation policies, redevelopment planning, and emergency preparedness and disaster response. High quality elevation data must be collected to serve post-Hurricane recovery and other needs, including assessing coastal landscape change and vulnerability; designing restoration, redevelopment, and protection projects; and predicting future hurricane storm surge, coastal and inland flooding.

Port Neches Flood Inundation

Hurricane Harvey flood inundation map for Port Neches, Texas, based on pre-storm lidar data and USGS high water marks.

Lidar Applications for Wildfire Prediction and Recovery

Lidar data are used in predicting wildfire risk, and in post-wildfire hazards analyses. For example, lidar point clouds provide 3D information about forest canopy and vegetation structure that is used to map wildfire fuel, a key risk factor for fire occurrence and intensity. Lidar-based digital elevation models (DEMs) map the local topographic conditions (elevation, slope, and aspect), which are critical components to understanding and predicting fire behavior.  After wildfires occur, lidar-based DEMs are used to develop predictive models of flood and mud flow hazards that can result from steep terrain that has been stripped of vegetation. Conducting these analyses and understanding the vulnerability of communities, farms, and infrastructure to future wildfires relies on the availability of up-to-date high resolution, accurate lidar data.

 

A Fire burns along the ground in a ponderosa pine forest in New Mexico

Prescribed fires, such as this one, are used by land managers to restore ponderosa pine forests to more resilient conditions.

USGS is collecting and processing lidar data for priority hurricane-impacted (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico) and wildfire-impacted (California) locations shown below.

Lidar acquisition blocks for Northern California

Lidar acquisition blocks for Northern California

Square miles: 19,981

Projected publication date on The National Map: January, 2020

Lidar acquisition blocks for Southern California

Lidar acquisition blocks for Southern California

Square miles: 9,489

Projected publication date on The National Map: January, 2020

Lidar acquisition blocks for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Lidar acquisition blocks for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Square miles: 3,590

Projected publication date on The National Map: February, 2020

Lidar acquisition blocks for Texas

Lidar acquisition blocks for Texas

Square miles: 15,305

Projected publication date on The National Map: February, 2020

Lidar acquisition blocks for Georgia

Lidar acquisition blocks for Georgia

Square miles: 21,240

Projected publication date on The National Map: June, 2020

Lidar acquisition blocks for Florida

Lidar acquisition blocks for Florida

Total square miles: 39,939

Projected publication date on The National Map: April, 2020