OpenTopography Blog

Information and discussion related to high-resolution LiDAR topography for the Earth sciences

Posts from March 2009

LiDAR Textbook Available

Posted on Mon, March 23, 2009 by Chris Crosby in NewsResources

A new textbook, Topographic Laser Ranging and Scanning, co-edited by Jie Shan and Charles K Toth is now available.  It is apparently the first textbook to tackle the topic of topographic LiDAR technology and processing.  Book summary:

This volume provides the first systematic, yet in-depth, introduction to the basic theories and principles of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology and data processing, which over the past decade has been successfully used for topographic mapping and 3-D visualization. The information collected in these pages meets the needs of all those working across the many fields LiDAR is impacting, including electrical engineering, signal processing, navigation theory, pattern recognition, and machine learning. Edited by leading experts with broad backgrounds in LiDAR topographic mapping and written by highly regarded specialists, it expands the toolboxes of researchers with novel ideas beyond their own experience.

I don’t have a copy of the book, but based on the Google Books preview it seems like it could be an excellent resource for people trying to get up to speed on LiDAR topography.

Comments on this post: 0

USGS Topo Maps for Google Earth

Posted on Mon, March 23, 2009 by Chris Crosby in DataGoogle EarthResources

The Google Earth Library has announced that they are in the process of importing all 50,000+ USGS topographic maps into KML format for use in Google Earth.  From the website:

A couple months ago I began a project to import all 50,000+ USGS Topographic Maps into Google Earth. This is a huge undertaking that will likely take me several more months to finish all 50 US States. These maps are intended to provide a free alternative to expensive commercial products that often cost $80 or more per state or charge monthly access fees.  Plus you get the benefit of using the topo maps with Google Earth.

The Topo maps are saved as individual KMZ files which must be downloaded in their entirety before they will be visible in Google Earth.  Most of the maps are less than 5 megabytes, but some are as large as 20 megabytes so the speed at which the maps load will depend greatly on the speed of your Internet connection.

Currently, topo quads are available for Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Learn more and download the KML file at:

Comments on this post: 0

NCALM Data Distribution Center wins Google KML in Research Contest

Posted on Tue, March 10, 2009 by Chris Crosby in DataNews

imageYesterday Google announced the winners of their KML in Research contest via the Google LatLong blog.  Ionut Iordache, of the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM) at UC Berkeley was awarded for his very nice NCALM Data Distribution Center KML file that allows integrated access to tiled LIDAR DEMs as well as hillshade overlays in Google Earth.  Google Earth provides an excellent platform to visualize and then download LIDAR-derived topography and the NCALM DDC KML is an nice example of how a lot of functionality can be bundled into a small, easily-downloadable, KML.  The Google Earth files available via offer similar capabilities as the NCALM DDC file, but for a variety of reasons we have chosen not to integrate them into a single download like the file produced by Ionut.

A full list of winners in the KML in Research contest can be found here.  Congratulations to Ionut and NCALM!

Comments on this post: 1

OpenTopography Hardware

Posted on Fri, March 06, 2009 by Chris Crosby in OpenTopography Updates

Today the GEON team was in the SDSC machine room moving GEON and OpenTopography machines to new racks as part of a reorganization of the machine room.  Since I don’t visit the machine room very often, I took some photos of the hardware that makes OpenTopo work.  This photo shows the rack that holds the OpenTopo Portal (Gridsphere) server as well as the LIDAR database cluster (8 front-end nodes plus a four node disk array (20 TB total).  In a different rack is the 3 node compute cluster for LIDAR data processing (DEM generation) and the visualization machine that generates the browse images (jpgs) and Google Earth KMZ files for each job.  Other hardware involved in making OpenTopography work is the SDSC “webfarm” server that runs the website and the tile DEM server that is currently running at ASU.

Comments on this post: 1

Page 1 of 1 pages