National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), NOAA Satellite and Information Service

Back to Collection NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC/MGG/Lidar
View Metadata As: Get Data, FAQ, HTML, 19139 XML
Assess Metadata For: Completeness, DOI Readiness, CSW Readiness, Components

2009 USGS/NPS Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL): Cape Hatteras National Seashore - Post-Nor'easter Ida

browse graphicThis kmz file shows the extent of coverage for the 2009 USGS/NPS Cape Hatteras National Seashore Post-Nor'Easter Ida lidar data set.
This is a bare-earth data lidar data set that was collected on November 27, 29 and December 1, 2009 along the shoreline of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Dare and Hyde Counties in North Carolina, after Nor'easter Ida. Binary point-cloud data were produced from remotely sensed, geographically referenced elevation measurements cooperatively by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Park Service (NPS). Elevation measurements were collected over the area using the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL), a pulsed laser ranging system mounted onboard an aircraft to measure ground elevation, vegetation canopy, and coastal topography. The system uses high-frequency laser beams directed at the Earth's surface through an opening in the bottom of the aircraft's fuselage. The laser system records the time difference between emission of the laser beam and the reception of the reflected laser signal in the aircraft. The plane travels over the target area at approximately 50 meters per second at an elevation of approximately 300 meters, resulting in a laser swath of approximately 240 meters with an average point spacing of 2-3 meters. The EAARL, developed originally by NASA at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, measures ground elevation with a vertical resolution of 15 centimeters. A sampling rate of 3 kilohertz or higher, results in an extremely dense spatial elevation dataset. Over 100 kilometers of coastline can be easily surveyed within a 3- to 4-hour mission. When subsequent elevation maps for an area are analyzed, they provide a useful tool to make management decisions regarding land development.

Cite this dataset when used as a source.

Search and Download
    Distribution Formats
    • LAZ
    Distributor Distributor information not available
    Point of Contact Amar Nayegandhi
    Jacobs Technology, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, FL
    727 803-8747 (x3026)
    Documentation links not available.
    • DOI/USGS > United States Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior
    • DOI/NPS > National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
      • publication: 2011-01-01
      Data Presentation Form: Digital image
      Dataset Progress Status Complete
      Data Update Frequency: Not planned
      Supplemental Information: Raw lidar data are not in a format that is generally usable by resource managers and scientists for scientific analysis. Converting dense lidar elevation data into a readily usable format without loss of essential information requires specialized processing. The U.S. Geological Survey's Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) has developed custom software to convert raw lidar data into a GIS-compatible map product to be provided to GIS specialists, managers, and scientists. The primary tool used in the conversion process is Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS), a multi-tiered processing system developed by a USGS-NASA collaborative project. Specialized processing algorithms are used to convert raw waveform lidar data acquired by the EAARL to georeferenced spot (x,y,z) returns for "first surface" and "bare earth" topography. The terms first surface and bare earth refer to the digital elevation data of the terrain, but while first-surface data includes vegetation, buildings, and other man-made structures, bare-earth data does not. The zero crossing of the second derivative (that is, detection of local maxima) is used to detect the first return, resulting in "first surface" topography, while the trailing edge algorithm (that is, the algorithm searches for the location prior to the last return where direction changes along the trailing edge) is used to detect the range to the last return or "bare earth" (the first and last returns being the first and last significant measurable portion of the return pulse). Statistical filtering, known as the Random Consensus Filter (RCF), is used to remove false bottom returns and other outliers from the EAARL topography data. The filter uses a grid of non-overlapping square cells (buffer) of user-defined size overlaid onto the original point cloud. The user also defines the vertical tolerance (vertical width) based on the topographic complexity and point sampling density of the data. The maximum allowable elevation range within a cell is established by this vertical tolerance. An iterative process searches for the maximum concentration of points within the vertical tolerance, and removes those points outside of the tolerance (Nayegandhi and others, 2009). The input parameters for the random consensus filter (RCF) for these data were: grid cell size (buffer) = 6 meters x 6 meters; vertical tolerance (vertical width) = 500 centimeters. These data are then converted to the North American Datum of 1983 and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (using the GEOID09 model). The development of custom software for creating these data products has been supported by the U.S. Geological Survey CMG Program's Decision Support for Coastal Science and Management project. Processed data products are used by the U.S. Geological Survey CMG Program's National Assessments of Coastal Change Hazards project to quantify the vulnerability of shorelines to coastal change hazards such as severe storms, sea-level rise, and shoreline erosion and retreat.
      Purpose: The purpose of this project was to produce highly detailed and accurate digital elevation maps of a portion of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Dare and Hyde Counties in North Carolina, post-Nor'Ida (November 2009 nor'easter), for use as a management tool and to make these data available to natural-resource managers and research scientists.
      Time Period: Unknown  to  Unknown
      Spatial Reference System:
      Spatial Bounding Box Coordinates:
      N: 35.963517
      S: 35.064837
      E: -75.455316
      W: -76.024620
      Spatial Coverage Map:
      • Bathymetry/Topography
      • Airborne Lidar Processing System
      • ALPS
      • Digital Elevation Model
      • DEM
      • EAARL
      • Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar
      • laser altimetry
      • lidar
      • remote sensing
      • topography
      • US
      • North Carolina
      • Cape Hatteras National Seashore
      • Dare County
      • Hyde County
      Use Constraints No constraint information available
      Fees Fee information not available.
      Lineage Statement Lineage statement not available.
      • Jacobs Technology, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, FL
      • Jacobs Technology, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, FL
      • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NGDC > National Geophysical Data Center, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
      Processing Steps
      • The data were collected using a Pilatus PC-6 aircraft. The Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) laser scanner collects the data using a green-wavelength (532-nanometer) raster scanning laser, while a digital camera acquires a visual record of the flight. The data are stored on hard drives and archived at the U.S. Geological Survey office in St. Petersburg, Florida. The navigational data are processed and then, along with the raw data, are downloaded into ALPS, or the Airborne Lidar Processing System (20091231 - 20101019). Data are converted from units of time to x,y,z points for elevation and formatted into .las and .xyz files. The derived surface data can then also be converted into raster data (GeoTIFFs). This process took place 20091127 through 20101102.
      • Metadata imported into ArcCatalog from XML file.
      • The NOAA Coastal Services Center (CSC) received files in unclassified LAS format. The files contained LiDAR intensity and elevation measurements. CSC performed the following processing on the data to make it available within Digital Coast: 1. The unclassified data were processed to provide a bare earth surface. 2. The data were converted from UTM, Zone 18 coordinates to geographic coordinates. 3. The data were converted from NAVD88 heights to ellipsoid heights using Geoid09. 4. The LAS header fields were sorted by latitude and updated.
      • The NOAA National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) received lidar data files via ftp transfer from the NOAA Coastal Services Center. The data are currently being served via NOAA CSC Digital Coast at The data can be used to re-populate the system. The data are archived in LAS or LAZ format. The LAS format is an industry standard for LiDAR data developed by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); LAZ is a loseless compressed version of LAS developed by Martin Isenburg ( The data are exclusively in geographic coordinates (either NAD83 or ITRF94). The data are referenced vertically to the ellipsoid (either GRS80 or ITRF94), allowing for the ability to apply the most up to date geoid model when transforming to orthometric heights.

      Metadata Last Modified: 2013-06-04

      For questions about the information on this page, please email: