Category Archives: GIS Resources

A Software Tool for Rapid Flood Inundation Mapping


A software tool for rapid flood inundation mapping

Open-File Report 2016-1038

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)
James Verdin, Kristine Verdin, Melissa Mathis, Tamuka Magadzire, Eric Kabuchanga, Mark Woodbury, and Hussein Gadain
DOI: 10.3133/ofr20161038



The GIS Flood Tool (GFT) was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide a means for production of reconnaissance-level flood inundation mapping for data-sparse and resource-limited areas of the world. The GFT has also attracted interest as a tool for rapid assessment flood inundation mapping for the Flood Inundation Mapping Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The GFT can fill an important gap for communities that lack flood inundation mapping by providing a first-estimate of inundation zones, pending availability of resources to complete an engineering study. The tool can also help identify priority areas for application of scarce flood inundation mapping resources. The technical basis of the GFT is an application of the Manning equation for steady flow in an open channel, operating on specially processed digital elevation data. The GFT is implemented as a software extension in ArcGIS. Output maps from the GFT were validated at 11 sites with inundation maps produced previously by the Flood Inundation Mapping Program using standard one-dimensional hydraulic modeling techniques. In 80 percent of the cases, the GFT inundation patterns matched 75 percent or more of the one-dimensional hydraulic model inundation patterns. Lower rates of pattern agreement were seen at sites with low relief and subtle surface water divides. Although the GFT is simple to use, it should be applied with the oversight or review of a qualified hydraulic engineer who understands the simplifying assumptions of the approach.

Suggested Citation

Verdin, James; Verdin, Kristine; Mathis, Melissa; Magadzire, Tamuka; Kabuchanga, Eric; Woodbury, Mark; and Gadain, Hussein, 2016, A software tool for rapid flood inundation mapping: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1038, 26 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • GIS Flood Tool Concepts
  • Software Tools
  • Elevation Data
  • Software Validation
  • Applications of the GIS Flood Tool Software
  • Technical Considerations
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Into the Okavango 2015

The Okavango Database is a growing record of data generated by the explorers and scientists on their 120 day expedition to the Okavango Delta. The database encompasses wildlife sightings, tweets, audio recordings and images taken by the participants, as well as sensor measurements capturing things like temperature, pH levels, and heart rates. The intention of the Okavango Database API is to share the data in almost real-time as it’s uploaded, so that people all over the world can follow the journey as it unfolds. It also allows for others to use the data for their own purposes.

ASTER Data Available at No Charge

On April 1, 2016, NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) began distributing ASTER Level 1 Precision Terrain Corrected Registered At-Sensor Radiance (AST_L1T) data products over the entire globe at no charge. Global distribution of these data at no charge is a result of a policy change made by NASA and Japan.

The AST_L1T product provides a quick turn-around of consistent GIS-ready data as a multi-file product, which includes a HDF-EOS data file, full-resolution composite images (FRI) as GeoTIFFs for tasked telescopes (e.g., VNIR/SWIR and TIR ), and associated metadata files. In addition, each AST_L1T granule contains related products including low-resolution browse and, when applicable, a Quality Assurance (QA) browse and QA text report.

More than 2.95 million scenes of archived data are now available for direct download through the LP DAAC Data Pool and for search and download through NASA‘s Earthdata Search Client and also through USGS‘ GloVis , and USGS‘ EarthExplorer . New scenes will be added as they are acquired and archived.

ASTER is a partnership between NASA, Japan‘s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, and Japan Space Systems (J-spacesystems ).

Visit the LP DAAC ASTER Policy Change Page to learn more about ASTER. Subscribe to the LP DAAC listserv for future announcements.

The White House Launches “The Opportunity Project”

Utilizing Open Data to Build Stronger Ladders of Opportunity for All

March 8th, 2016  Sensors& Systems

In the lead up to the President’s historic visit to SxSW, today the Administration is announcing the launch of “The Opportunity Project,” a new open data effort to improve economic mobility for all Americans. As the President said in his State of the Union address, we must harness 21st century technology and innovation to expand access to opportunity and tackle our greatest challenges.

The Opportunity Project will put data and tools in the hands of civic leaders, community organizations, and families to help them navigate information about critical resources such as access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, and other neighborhood amenities. This project is about unleashing the power of data to help our children and our children’s children access the resources they need to thrive. Today, the Administration is releasing a unique package of Federal and local datasets in an easy-to-use format and accelerating a new way for the federal government to collaborate with local leaders, technologists, and community members to use data and technology to tackle inequities and strengthen their communities. Continue reading The White House Launches “The Opportunity Project”

EPA Releases Online Mapping Tool for Drinking Water Sources

Sensors & Systems Feb. 22, 2016

CALIFORNIA, Feb. 22, 2016 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released an online mapping tool that provides users with information about their watershed and water supplier, as well as information about any possible sources of pollution that could affect their communities’ water supply.

The Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters – DWMAPS – also provides users with ways they can get involved in protecting drinking water sources in their community.

“A key part of having safe drinking water is protecting the sources – the streams, rivers, and lakes where utilities withdraw water,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a written statement. “DWMAPS is the latest example of how EPA is using technology and digital tools to better protect public health and the environment.

According to a press release from the EPA, utilities and state drinking water program managers can also use DWMAPS with their own state and local data. It allows them to identify potential sources of contamination in their locations, find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination, and evaluate accidental spills and releases. DWMAPS also integrates drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the federal, state, and local levels. Continue reading EPA Releases Online Mapping Tool for Drinking Water Sources

7 Great iPad Apps for Learning Geography

From Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

November 26, 2015
Below are some great iPad apps to helps students in their geography learning. We have particularly focused on apps that provide interactive content to engage students and keep them motivated. These apps provide a number of interesting games, quizzes, reference resources and several other materials that can potentially bring life to geography learning. Have a look and share with us your feedback.

1- Learn World Geography

‘Wish you knew your world maps and capitals better? Brainscape helps you learn them faster than any other program, using the latest in cognitive science techniques. Rather than creating frivolous games or distracting quizzes to try to make learning “fun,” Brainscape provides a scientifically optimized algorithm to repeat flashcards in just the right pattern for your brain’s maximum absorption, based on YOUR confidence. ’

2- iLearn Geography

‘The iLearn Geography app is an amalgamation of our world’s most beautiful and interesting landmarks, brought to life by a wonderfully intuitive and creative user interface. These range from natural rivers, waterfalls and volcanoes, to manmade statues, buildings and cities.’

3- TapQuiz Maps World 

Continue reading 7 Great iPad Apps for Learning Geography

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