Alaska Mapping Initiative
Alaska Digital Map Data
Modern satellite and airborne map data-collection systems are making it possible to map Alaska with greater accuracy and efficiency than ever before. Various data improvements are being made through State and Federal partnerships, and these data are being used on the new Alaska US Topo maps.
New 5-meter elevation data is being collected by airborne radar statewide over Alaska as funding is made available. The data is being be used to update The National Map's National Elevation Dataset (NED) and to create contours and shaded relief for the US Topo maps. Approximately 40 percent of the State has been funded and data collected as of the summer of 2013. Comparisons of the new data with the older Alaska elevation dataset show that significant errors are being corrected. Alaska elevation improvements are an element of the national 3D Elevation Program (3DEP).
The USGS will use a commercial roads dataset on the initial Alaska US Topo maps, except over Forest Service lands where the Forest Service will provide the data. The U.S. Census Bureau's TIGER road data are available now for download from the USGS national transportation database. The USGS and the Census Bureau are developing data-maintenance and data-sharing processes and procedures, and hope to begin the display of public domain Census roads on the Alaska maps beginning in 2016. Major Alaska railroad lines will also be shown on the maps.
Multiple Federal agencies are working to improve their boundary data for Alaska. Boundaries to be shown on the maps include borough, State, international, and Metlakatla Indian Community boundaries from Census; Federal administrative boundaries are being provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Department of Defense. The Bureau of Land Management supplied a digital version of protracted Public Land Survey System data that will be displayed on the maps to provide a locational reference.
Buildings that will be shown on the maps include police stations, fire stations, post offices, schools, and prisons. These features have been updated using publicly available source information. The Trans-Alaska oil pipeline will also be shown on the maps.
Three vegetative classes from the current version of the USGS National Land Cover Database (NLCD) for Alaska will be combined to show a general forest cover layer on the new Alaska US Topo maps. The source for the current Alaska NLCD data is 2001 Landsat, but a new version of NLCD for Alaska based on 2006 Landsat will be produced as soon as it is available.
Official geographic names for the United States are maintained in the USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). GNIS names over Alaska were derived primarily from the 1:63,360 legacy maps. A review of the Alaska GNIS names was completed in 2005. GNIS names are used on the Alaska US Topo maps as sources for cities, glaciers, airports, topographic features, and other places of interest.