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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 43% 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). Funding for the improved elevation program is coordinated through State of Alaska and federal partnerships.

Thumbnail and link to ifsar availability graphic.
Ifsar availability status by 1-degree cells (click for larger version)
Thumbnail and link to imagery elevation model
Rapid-Eye imagery draped over NED surface


The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is the surface-water component of The National Map and is the primary repository for hydrography data in the United States. It is a comprehensive set of digital surface water map data of the United States using common features such as lakes, streams, ice fields, coastlines, stream gages, and dams. The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) data over Alaska was originally created from the legacy 1:63,360 topographic maps. Local partners are working to improve the surface water mapping over their lands to standards similar to those in the conterminous United States. Glacier information will be updated using Randolph Glacier Inventory data. Where it exists, NOAA shoreline data will be integrated into the NHD to improve shoreline representation. Surface water features on the US Topo maps will come from the National Hydrography Dataset. Thumbnail and link to NHD and SPOT image composite
NHD features draped over 'Satellite Pour 'Observation de la Terre' (SPOT) imagery


The State of Alaska is acquiring natural color Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre 5 (SPOT 5) satellite imagery statewide. The USGS purchased a license to display the imagery on the new US Topo map product. For more information, please visit

Thumbnail and link to AK imagery status graphic

Alaska imagery status - click for larger version
  Thumbnail and link to sample Alaska SPOT imagery
Sample AK SPOT 2.5-meter imagery


Alaska Department of Transportation Primary and Secondary road networks are used on 2014 US Topo maps, except over Forest Service lands where the Forest Service will provide the digital map data. The Alaska US Topo maps created in 2013 used a commercial roads dataset, except over National Park Service and US Forest Service lands where the Forest Service provided the digital map data. Major Alaska railroad lines will also be shown on the maps.

Boundaries and Public Land Survey System (PLSS)

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 and the Alaska Pipeline

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.

Land Cover (Woodlands)

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.

Geographic Names

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.

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 11-Jan-2017 17:15:23 EST