NGP User Engagement Office

Alaska Mapping Initiative

The Alaska Mapping Initiative supports acquisition of new topographic map data and maps for Alaska. The new data and maps raise the accuracy of Alaska topographic mapping to levels found common in the conterminous United States.

A New Elevation Layer Is Being Acquired Statewide for Alaska

In 2011 the Alaska Congressional Delegation requested federal support in modernizing Alaska map data. Collection of a 5-meter resolution elevation grid for Alaska began in 2012, replacing the former 60-meter statewide elevation grid. Radar technology called IfSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) is used to collect the data because it can penetrate the clouds, smoke and haze that are often present in Alaska. The data are free to the public for any use. Alaska IfSAR acquisition supports the broader national 3D Elevation Program.

                                                Status of Alaska IfSAR Elevation Acquisition

Alaska IfSAR Status May 22, 2018

This graphic shows the status of Alaska IfSAR elevation data acquisition on May 22, 2018.

(Credit: Tracy Fuller, USGS National Geospatial Program. Public domain.)

A New Digital US Topo Map Series Is Being Created Statewide for Alaska

'US Topo' is a digital topographic map format produced by USGS. 11,275 US Topo maps of Alaska will be created and published by USGS to provide statewide coverage of this new map series at 1:25,000 map scale. Each map is created using new contours generated from the new IfSAR elevation data The maps are distributed for free download and use in PDF format that can be viewed on a computer or mobile device, or printed to paper. 

                                                       Status of Alaska US Topo Map Production

Alaska US Topo Map Production Status March 2018

This graphic illustrates the status of USGS US Topo map production as of March 20, 2018, showing maps published from 2013 to 2017, and maps planned to be published in fiscal year 2018, under the Alaska Mapping Initiative.

(Credit: Tracy Fuller, USGS National Geospatial Program. Public domain.)

Downloading Alaska IfSAR Data

Two convenient online portals are available for downloading Alaska IfSAR data. The State of Alaska offers 5-meter IfSAR by tiles through their elevation portal found at USGS offers the 5-meter IfSAR data tiles, and also provides seamless post-processed elevation data at approximately 10-meter, 30-meter, and 60-meter post spacing. These data can be found at Bulk download is also available from USGS, and instructions can be found at

Downloading US Topo Maps

Alaska US Topo maps are available for free download at Paper copies can be ordered for a fee from the USGS store located online at

Terrestrial Hydrography Updates

USGS directly supports and is helping to coordinate the development of an updated terrestrial hydrography (or land surface water) layer for Alaska. The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) for Alaska are being updated through collaborative Federal and State partnerships to meet accuracy and content specifications suitable for 1:25,000-scale mapping. IfSAR elevation data serves a critical role in the update process. Updated NHD and WBD data are used to create important watershed characteristic data under the NHD+High Resolution (NHD+HR) program. All of these efforts will eventually support the development of an operational Water Model for Alaska, and support numerous other critical hydrography applications. Several critical watersheds including Cook Inlet, Copper River, and Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) are currently in various stages of development.

Alask Mat-su Watershed Relief and Hydrography

This graphic shows the extent of the Mat-Su Watershed and displays the terrain and hydrography of the basin.

(Credit: Kacy Krieger, University of Alaska Anchorage. Public domain.)




Tracy Joe Fuller

Alaska Mapping Program Manager
National Geospatial Program
Phone: 303-202-4532

Brian Wright

National Map Liaison AK
National Geospatial Program
Phone: 907-201-0113