Tag: United States

2010 Census Data Now Available in the Living Atlas

NonWhite Predominant Race

You can now easily map 2010 Census demographic data from the Living Atlas of the World. These services can be used to create multi-geography demographic stories that help us understand the human population regionally, and locally. There are four services … Continue reading

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175,000 U.S. Historical Maps–Now Online!

HighlandsTX

More than 175,000 historical topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are now available on ArcGIS Online. For over 130 years, the USGS has prepared these detailed maps to accurately show the complex geography of the nation. Maps cover … Continue reading

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Is This Land Any Good? Land Capability Maps on arcgis.com

Let’s say you’re a farmer or farm real estate broker, and you are evaluating whether or not to buy a piece of land.  Your business and your livelihood depends completely on the land and its capability to produce income.

How do you tell the difference between a bad piece of land and a piece of land that has good potential but hasn’t been managed well or has otherwise been neglected?  What can the piece of land do, and what is it really worth?

In a time of great uncertainty and volatility in financial markets and real estate valuation, the inherent capability of a piece of land’s soil asset has just become a lot easier to estimate.  Image credit: USDA

To help answer these questions, esri has produced two new maps and map layers on arcgis.com.  Both are planning-level maps of the economic capability of the United States’ soils.  One map shows the economic capability when the soil is irrigated and the other when the soil is not irrigated.  These maps are entitled Irrigated Land Capability Class and Non-Irrigated Land Capability Class, respectively.

Both maps are made directly from the SSURGO planning level soil dataset from NRCS. For the more technical among us, we used the MUAGGATT table fields ICCDCD and NICCDCD from SSURGO.  Both maps cover the entire USA including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

At 1:24,000 scale, each part of the United States falls into one of eight broad land capability classes.

The first four classes (1-4) are useful for growing crops, where each class from one to four needs more management or treatment, and has more limitations than the previous class. For example, classes 3 and 4 require more management or treatment than classes 1 and 2.

The last four land capability classes (5-8) are not useful for crops.  NRCS recommends these lands be used for things other than crops, like rangeland, forestland, or wildlife habitat. Class eight isn’t even good for forestry, pasture or rangeland, and so instead NRCS recommends those lands be used for recreation, wildlife habitat, watershed, or aesthetic purposes.

Non-Irrigated Capability Class

These maps feature a color scheme (shown here in 50% transparency) that matches an image of a sample landscape that you see when you click on each soil map unit.  This graphic may then be used like a second legend, displaying the eight classes for you on a replica landscape.

Land Capability Class is one of the most important concepts in the US soil dataset SSURGO.  Land Capability Class is even used in some states for property tax assessment. In the State of Ohio, for example, the tax code prescribes specifically how to use this map to determine property tax.

Esri plans to release more land capability maps, specifically Land Capability Subclass. We will let you know as soon as these maps are complete and online, and rest assured that the subclasses will be in a format that is easily mashed up with either the Irrigated or Non-Irrigated Capability Class maps.

Special thanks to Michael Dangermond for providing this post. Questions for Michael:  mdangermond@esri.com

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Versatile New Maps: The Medium Scale Hydro Basemap and Hydro Reference Overlay

In the bad old days, you may have done some work for a client and got to a point where you just want to make a map for a meeting or a report.  One of the most time consuming parts of making a map from scratch was finding data for rivers, streams, and lakes, then turning each an appropriate blue, making each line the appropriate symbol, then symbolizing each stream segment.  It takes time to find a dataset that is good enough, at the right scale, and that looks good when you are done symbolizing everything.  It may take you hours to find the right data, symbolize, and label everything.

In my past life as a consultant, sometimes I had to start from scratch like this. I spent time finding and downloading appropriate scale data, checking it to see if it looks OK on my map, then symbolizing each stream and lake at least a little bit (most places I have worked don’t need glaciers symbolized) so they show up with the right symbol.  Once that is all set, I haven’t even started labeling each stream, which can take quite a while to get right.

Sometimes to save my clients money I would give up and use USGS DRGs, turning only the blue symbols on.  I often thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some kind of national hydrologic map service on the internet that you can just add to your map and it just works?

Now there is… in the form of the esri Mapping Center Hydro Team Hydro Basemap.  We have made a medium scale hydro basemap of the United States, from 1:147,000 to 1:18,000.  And we think it will make a lot of things easier for our community.

The Hydro Basemap of the United States is based on NHD, but with a focus on analytical cartography.  These maps are made to show hydrologic networks connecting through a system.  What’s known as the ‘Hydro Basemap’ is just the Hydro Reference Overlay plus relief… At times you may have your own relief or basemap and may not need any background behind the rivers and lakes.  For that you don’t want the whole Hydro Basemap, just what’s called the Hydro Reference Overlay. That’s the only difference in the two concepts… the presence of relief.  These two products are close companions to one another.

Hydro Basemap

Gardiner, Maine area, esri Mapping Center Team Hydro Basemap of the United States

Actually the Mapping Center Team has gone way beyond the concept I described earlier.  What we actually built is a hydro basemap, but one that is ready for a multiscale experience.  You can take one of the applications we built such as the High Water Map, then recycle/repurpose the javascript application for your needs, and the basemap is ready for you to use.  Just add your data.

 Hydro Basemap mashup with USGS Gauges

A map created on arcgis.com using the hydro basemap, mashed up with the USGS river gauge service.

As you zoom in and out, streams turn on and off, and labels rearrange for you.  As you zoom in, more and more stream segments appear that are important to your map view.  As you zoom out, smaller streams that would clutter your map view are selected out of the cache and removed.  Streams do not turn off and on indiscriminately or based solely on size or flow, there is a sophisticated algorithm at work here that will prioritize small streams with big important names (such as the upper Mississippi River in Minnesota).  In addition, different parts of the country have different methods of stream prioritization, and these are respected.  There is no one size fits all method to pruning streams as scales change, since different parts of the country have different soils and drainage characteristics. Don’t worry, we have done this for you so you don’t have to.

It’s easy to get used to something like this because (as we like to think at the Mapping Center) it’s how things should have been all along. We at the Mapping Center Hydro Team are proud of this product and would like you to give it a spin, and see how you like it.  We’d like to hear your comment to know how easy this is for you to use.  I wish they had this when I was a consultant.

Special thanks to Michael Dangermond for providing this post. Questions for Michael:  mdangermond@esri.com

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The esri High Water Map

The esri High Water Map is a public information viewer that reports current water levels and flood forecasts for more than 4000 gauges on streams and rivers across the United States.

With only a few seconds’ look at the high water map, you can see what parts of the USA are experiencing flooding right now.  In addition, you can see places that are forecast in the short term to undergo catastrophic flooding.  Gauges forecast to go
into major flood stage appear as subtle but attention-demanding
animations on the map.

View of esri High Water Map

Screenshot of the esri High Water Map

Click on any gauge to find out the current water level expressed by the gauge, plus an archived water level for the past week, and the forecasted water level for the next several days from the National Weather Service.  Clicking on a gauge makes these facts appear in a graph that on the left side of the map.

The High Water Map is a multiscale experience, so zooming in allows the map reader to see all available gauges, including the ones that pose no current danger to life or property. Gauges in normal condition are left off the smallest scale maps, because this is not a map of gauges per se.  This map is about high water. The subject of the map is current flooding and uses gauges to tell the story.

If you would like a brief guided tour that will get you started
using this map, Caitlin Scopel of the esri Mapping Center Team prepared
this five minute introductory video which will show you how to get started using the High Water Map and how to get the most out of this resource.

In case you are wondering where the gauge went that you know exists but isn’t on our map, you should know that our viewer is set up at this time to only parse xml feeds from the National Weather Service and NOAA.  This is largely because it is the most well-represented gauge network in the United States.  It is the one with the best coverage nationwide, but it is by no means the only system of gauges in the United States or the world.  In the United States and many countries around the world, there is no single common live gauge reporting system. So to demonstrate the map we chose a reliable, authoritative gauge system which covers most of the major river systems in the United States.

The High Water Map has the potential, however, to be adapted to read gauges from other agencies around the world with a few adaptations.

At this point in time there is promise there will be in the future a common worldwide system of gauge reporting.  A standard based upon WaterML holds promise for the creation of a global, live gauge data stream using a common publishing format.  Once this standard is agreed upon and implemented, the public stands to greatly benefit.  With a common standard and structure, all mapping technologies may combine, read and show live services.  A common standard and structure lets every gauge be in every map now, in everything from simple products to sophisticated forecasting and analysis.

Special thanks to Michael Dangermond for providing this post. Questions for Michael: mdangermond@esri.com

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