Lesson 10f: The National Map 3DEP Elevation Web Service in ArcMap

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This video tutorial shows how to use the National Map’s 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Elevation web service in ArcMap. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to add the Dynamic Elevation Web Coverage Service to ArcMap, enable raster processing templates, and retrieve a spot elevation.

Please note that some of our URLs in the video have changed. All URLs beginning with 'viewer.nationalmap.gov/...' have been updated to 'apps.nationalmap.gov/...'. These URLs should reroute automatically, but if you have an issue replace 'viewer.nationalmap.gov/...' with 'apps.nationalmap.gov/...'.  If you have questions, please visit https://usgs.gov/NationalMap/data.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:07:25

Location Taken: Augusta, ME, US


Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

 Lesson 10f:  The National Map Dynamic Elevation Web Service: Add to ArcMap, Raster Processing Templates, and Spot Elevation.  This video tutorial shows how to use the National Map’s 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Elevation web service in ArcMap. 

 By the end of this lesson, you will be able to add the Dynamic Elevation Web Coverage Service to ArcMap, enable raster processing templates, and retrieve a spot elevation.

The new dynamic elevation map service creates multi-resolution visualizations on-the-fly from Digital Elevation Models, allowing users to explore a variety of representations including: hillshade; aspect; slope; and tinted hillshade maps, as well as automated contours and more. Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Coverage Service (WCS) interfaces are enabled to support interoperability across systems. The web coverage service allows access to the underlying data for analysis and visualization in GIS software. 

The dynamic platform supports the exploration of 3DEP Digital Elevation Models, or DEMs, for the US and territories at a mixture of scales, including 1 meter DEMs. High resolution elevation data will continue to become increasingly available as 3DEP progresses towards its goal to acquire national lidar coverage by 2023, with ifSAR data in Alaska. In the dynamic service, the most current, highest resolution elevation data available are highlighted as users zoom in to larger scales.  Availability and scales of data vary by location.   Datasets are described on the 3DEP Products and Services webpage.  

To add services to ArcMap, you will need to know where to find the most up-to-date service URLs. These are available at viewer.nationalmap.gov/services/ .  Service URLs are subject to change in the future, but as of the publishing date of this video, the service address for the dynamic elevation service is shown here. Information regarding the dynamic elevation service is located in the WCS Services dropdown.

To begin, you must be using ArcMap Version 10.3 or a more recent version. This functionality is also available in ArcGIS Pro.  To access the dynamic elevation service in ArcMap, begin by opening the program.  Next, click the Add Data button. 

In the Add Data dialog box, double-click on the option for GIS Servers, then double-click Add ArcGIS Server. It is important to select Add ArcGIS Server and not the Add WCS Server option, as the Elevation service may not work properly if it is added as a WCS Server.

Once you have clicked Add ArcGIS Server, a new dialog box pops up.  Of the available options, select Use GIS services, and then click Next. 

Then, copy paste the URL of the 3DEP Elevation web service into the box labeled Server URL.  Leave the Authentication boxes blank, as authentication is not required for this web service.  Click Finish to add the web service to ArcMap.

To add the Elevation service to your map, open the Catalog window.  Expand the list of GIS Servers by clicking on the plus sign , and you should see the Elevation service in the list. Expand this list by clicking on the plus sign, and you will see the 3DEP Elevation service.  Click and drag this icon into your map to add the Elevation service.  When the service is added, it is zoomed to full extent, and a hillshade of North America will be visible on a blank background.  You will also see the Elevation service listed as a Layer in your Table of Contents.

Zooming in to a smaller area of interest allows the web service to load more quickly, as it is requesting a smaller area of data.  Try zooming in closer to an area with mountainous terrain, such as Yosemite National Park.

This Elevation service has several different display modes enabled, such as Slope, Aspect, and Elevation-Tinted Hillshade.  These can be accessed using Raster Processing Templates. 

To access the Processing Templates, right click the 3DEPElevation layer in the Table of Contents, and select Properties.  In the Layer Properties dialog box, select the Processing Templates tab. On this tab, you can select from a dropdown list of preconfigured display modes.  

The default display mode is Hillshade Gray, the way the layer initially loaded.  For demonstration purposes, select the “Hillshade Elevation Tinted” option, then click OK to apply the Processing Template. The result is a hillshade colored by elevation.

Several other processing templates are available, and can be applied the same way.  For example, the Aspect map and Slope map.  To return to the default view, select the Hillshade Gray processing template.  It should be the first in the dropdown list.

Next, let’s explore another capability of the dynamic Elevation service.  Since it is a WCS, we can access the actual elevation data, rather than simply seeing a static image.  First, turn off the “Hillshade Gray” Processing Template to see the elevation data as a flat raster.  In the processing templates dropdown, select the option “None” at the very bottom of the list.  This will change the display to a raster with no hillshading.

Now, by clicking the Identify tool at any location, you can retrieve the elevation at that point in meters.  Note that in order to retrieve elevation information, the processing template option must be set to “None.”

In this lesson, we discussed how to add the Dynamic Elevation WCS to ArcMap, enable raster processing templates, and retrieve a spot elevation.   Please visit The National Map Services page for more information about our web map services.