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2012 U.S. Geological Survey Topographic Lidar: Northeast Atlantic Coast Post-Hurricane Sandy

Binary point-cloud data were produced for a portion of the New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina coastlines, post-Hurricane Sandy (Sandy was an October 2012 hurricane that made landfall as an extratropical cyclone on the 29th), from remotely sensed, geographically referenced elevation measurements collected by Photo Science, Inc. (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina) and Woolpert, Inc. (Fire Island, New York) using airborne lidar sensors.
Cite this dataset when used as a source.
Online Access
  • Online access is not available for this resource
Distribution Formats
  • LAZ
Distributor DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Dataset Point of Contact United States Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
Documentation links not available.
  • publication: 2013-06-01
Data Presentation Form: Digital image
Dataset Progress Status Complete
Data Update Frequency: As needed
Supplemental Information:
LAS V1.2 (ASPRS Classes 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,12,18)
Purpose: The purpose of this project was to derive mean-high-water shoreline, dune crest (DHIGH) and dune toe (DLOW) elevation for a portion of the Eastern United States coastline following Hurricane Sandy, for use as a management tool and to make these data available to natural-resource managers and research scientists.Processed data products are used by the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology 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.
Use Limitations
  • These data depict the elevations at the time of the survey and are only accurate for that time. Users should be aware that temporal changes may have occurred since this data set was collected and some parts of this data may no longer represent actual surface conditions. Users should not use this data for critical applications without a full awareness of its limitations. Any conclusions drawn from analysis of this information are not the responsibility of NOAA or any of its partners. These data are NOT to be used for navigational purposes.
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOI/USGS > United States Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Time Period: 2012-11-08 2012-11-28 to 2012-11-12 2012-11-29
Spatial Reference System: urn:ogc:def:crs:EPSG::4269 Ellipsoid in Meters
Spatial Bounding Box Coordinates:
N: 40.790453
S: 34.566094
E: -72.703050
W: -76.680203
Spatial Coverage Map:
Theme keywords
  • Topography/Bathymetry
  • Cessna 206
  • Cessna 310
  • Dhigh
  • Dlow
  • Digital Elevation Model
  • DEM
  • dune crest
  • dune toe
  • extratropical cyclone
  • laser altimetry
  • lidar
  • remote sensing
  • shoreline
  • LAS
Place keywords
  • United States
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Fire Island
  • Long Island
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • DelMarVa Peninsula
  • Suffolk County, New York
  • Sussex County, Delaware
  • Worcester County, Maryland
  • Accomack County, Virginia
  • Hampton Roads Metropolitan District, Virginia
  • Currituck County, North Carolina
  • Dare County, North Carolina
  • Hyde County, North Carolina
  • Carteret County, North Carolina
Use Constraints No constraint information available
Fees Fee information not available.
Lineage information for: dataset
  • Woolpert, Inc.
  • Woolpert, Inc.
  • Woolpert, Inc.
  • Woolpert, Inc.
  • Photo Science, Inc.
  • Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, FL
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers of Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Processing Steps
  • 2012-11-05T00:00:00 - Using an Optech Gemini lidar sensor, 11 flight lines of high-density data, at a nominal pulse spacing (NPS) of 1 meter, were collected by Woolpert along the southern shore of Long Island, New York (approximately 15 square miles). Data Acquisition Height = 3,500 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) - Aircraft Speed = 125 Knots. Multiple returns were recorded for each laser pulse along with an intensity value for each return. A total of one mission was flown on November 5th. Two airborne global positioning system (GPS) base stations were used in support of the lidar data acquisition. Eight ground control points were surveyed through static methods. The GEOID used to reduce satellite-derived elevations to orthometric heights was GEOID96. Data for the task order is referenced to the UTM Zone 18N, North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83), and North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88), in meters. Airborne GPS data was differentially processed and integrated with the post-processed inertial measurement unit (IMU) data to derive a smoothed best estimate of trajectory (SBET). The SBET was used to reduce the lidar slant range measurements to a raw reflective surface for each flight line. The coverage was classified to extract a bare earth digital elevation model (DEM) and separate last returns. In addition to the LAS deliverables, one layer of coverage was delivered in the ERDAS Imagine (IMG) Format: bare earth.
  • 2012-01-01T00:00:00 - The lidar calibration and system performance are verified on a periodic basis using Woolpert's calibration range. The calibration range consists of a large building and runway. The edges of the building and control points along the runway have been located using conventional survey methods. Inertial measurement unit (IMU) misalignment angles and horizontal accuracy are calculated by comparing the position of the building edges between opposing flight lines. The scanner scale factor and vertical accuracy are calculated through comparison of lidar data against control points along the runway. Field calibration is performed on all flight lines to refine the IMU misalignment angles. IMU misalignment angles are calculated from the relative displacement of features within the overlap region of adjacent (and opposing) flight lines. The raw lidar data are reduced using the refined misalignment angles.
  • 2012-11-07T00:00:00 - Once the data acquisition and GPS processing phases are complete, the lidar data were processed immediately by Woolpert to verify the coverage had no voids. The GPS and IMU data were post-processed using differential and Kalman filter algorithms to derive a best estimate of trajectory. The quality of the solution was verified to be consistent with the accuracy requirements of the project.
  • 2012-11-07T00:00:00 - The individual flight lines were inspected by Woolpert to ensure the systematic and residual errors have been identified and removed. Then, the flight lines were compared to adjacent flight lines for any mismatches to obtain a homogenous coverage throughout the project area. The point cloud underwent a classification process to determine bare-earth points and non-ground points utilizing "first and only" as well as "last of many" lidar returns. This process determined Default (Class 1), Ground (Class 2), Noise (Class 7), Water (Class 9), Ignored Ground (Class 10), Overlap Default (Class 17), and Overlap Ground (Class 18) classifications. The bare-earth (Class 2 - Ground) lidar points underwent a manual QA/QC step to verify that artifacts have been removed from the bare-earth surface. The surveyed ground control points are used to perform the accuracy checks and statistical analysis of the lidar dataset.
  • 2012-01-01T00:00:00 - Photo Science, Inc. located a total of 29 calibration control points used in the post processing of the lidar data. The points were located on relatively flat terrain on surfaces that generally consisted of grass, gravel, or bare earth. Applanix software (PosPAC MMS) was used in the post processing of the airborne GPS and inertial data, which are critical to the positioning and orientation of the sensor during all flights. POSPac MMS provides the smoothed best estimate of trajectory (SBET) that is necessary for the post processor to develop the point cloud from the lidar missions. The point cloud is the mathematical three-dimensional collection of all returns from all laser pulses as determined from the aerial mission. The GEOID used to reduce satellite derived elevations to orthometric heights was GEOID96. Data for the task order is referenced to the UTM Zone 18N, NAD83, and NAVD88, in meters. At this point the data are ready for analysis, classification, and filtering to generate a bare-earth surface model in which the above ground features are removed from the data set. The point cloud was manipulated by the Optech or Leica software; GeoCue, TerraScan, and TerraModeler software were used for the automated data classification, manual cleanup, and bare-earth generation from the data. Project specific macros were used to classify the ground and to remove the side overlap between parallel flight lines. All data were manually reviewed and any remaining artifacts removed using functionality provided by TerraScan and TerraModeler. All ground (ASPRS Class 2) lidar data inside of the Lake Pond and Double Line Drain hydro flattening breaklines were then classified to water (ASPRS Class 9) using TerraScan macro functionality. All Lake Pond and Double Line Drain Island features were checked to ensure that the ground (ASPRS Class 2) were reclassified to the correct classification after the automated classification was completed. All overlap data were processed through automated functionality provided by TerraScan to classify the overlapping flight line data to approved classes by USGS. The overlap data were classified to Class 17 (USGS Overlap Default) and Class 18 (USGS Overlap Ground). These classes were created through automated processes only and were not verified for classification accuracy. Data were then run through additional macros to ensure deliverable classification levels matching the ASPRS LAS Version 1.2 Classification structure. GeoCue functionality was then used to ensure correct LAS Versioning. In-house software was used as a final QA/QC check to provide LAS Analysis of the delivered tiles. QA/QC checks were performed on a per tile level to verify final classification metrics and full LAS header information.
  • 2013-02-01T00:00:00 - All Woolpert, Inc. LAZ files were extracted to LAS and converted to ASCII xyz point files using LASTools las2las.exe. The ASCII point files were then written to netcdf format using MATLAB
  • 2013-05-01T00:00:00 - The NOAA Coastal Services Center (CSC) received topographic files in LAS format. The files contained lidar elevation and intensity measurements. The data were received in UTM Zone 18N coordinates and were vertically referenced to NAVD88 using the Geoid96 model. The vertical units of the data were meters. CSC performed the following processing for data storage and Digital Coast provisioning purposes: 1. The topographic las files were horizontally converted from UTM Zone 18N to Geographic Coordinates. 2. The horizontal units of the data were converted from meters to decimal degrees. 3. The topographic las files were vertically converted from orthometric (NAVD88) heights to ellipsoidal (NAD83) heights. 4. Classes 11 (Unknown), 15 (Unknown) and 17 (Default Overlap) were combined to Class 12 (Overlap). Class 11 points were assigned a User Data value of '1', Class 15 points were assigned a User Data value of '2', and Class 17 points were assigned a User Data value of '3'. 5. The data were converted to LAZ format.
  • 2013-06-28T00:00:00 - 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.
Last Modified: 2013-06-28
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