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Shoreline / Coastline Resources

Global Self-consistent, Hierarchical, High-resolution Geography Database (GSHHG) is a high-resolution geography data set, amalgamated from two databases: World Vector Shorelines (WVS) and CIA World Data Bank II (WDBII). The former is the basis for shorelines while the latter is the basis for lakes, although there are instances where differences in coastline representations necessitated adding WDBII islands to GSHHG. The WDBII source also provides political borders and rivers. GSHHG data have undergone extensive processing and should be free of internal inconsistencies such as erratic points and crossing segments. The shorelines are constructed entirely from hierarchically arranged closed polygons.

GSHHG combines the older GSHHS shoreline database with WDBII rivers and borders, available in either ESRI shapefile format or in a native binary format. Geography data are in five resolutions: crude(c), low(l), intermediate(i), high(h), and full(f). Shorelines are organized into four levels: boundary between land and ocean (L1), boundary between lake and land (L2), boundary between island-in-lake and lake (L3), and boundary between pond-in-island and island (L4). Datasets are in WGS84 geographic (simple latitudes and longitudes; decimal degrees).

GSHHG is released under the GNU Lesser General Public license, and is developed and maintained by Dr. Paul Wessel, SOEST, University of Hawai'i, and Dr. Walter H. F. Smith, NOAA Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry. Please notify Dr. Paul Wessel and Dr. Walter H.F. Smith if any changes are made to the GSHHG data set for commercial use.

Processing and assembly of the GSHHG data:
Wessel, P., and W. H. F. Smith (1996), A global, self-consistent, hierarchical, high-resolution shoreline database, J. Geophys. Res., 101(B4), 8741–8743, doi:10.1029/96JB00104.