OpenTopography facilitates efficient access to topography data, tools, and resources to advance our understanding of the Earth’s surface, vegetation, and built environment.

The mission of the OpenTopography Facility is to:

  • Democratize online access to regional, global and high-resolution, Earth science-oriented, topography data acquired with lidar, radar and photogrammetry technologies.
  • Provide value-added tools for discovery, access, processing, and visualization on top of topography-based Open Data collections in the cloud.
  • Harness cutting edge cyberinfrastructure to provide scalable, extensible, and innovative web service-based data access, processing and analysis capabilities.
  • Provide professional training and expert guidance in data management, processing and analysis.

OpenTopography is based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California San Diego and is operated in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and the EarthScope Consortium (formerly UNAVCO). Core operational support for OpenTopography comes from the Division of Earth Sciences at the National Science Foundation

Relative elevation model (REM) of Birch Creek, a tributary to the Yukon River, Alaska, USA. (NW to the left)


Data Availability:

As an NSF-EAR-funded data facility, OpenTopography’s primary emphasis is on Earth science-related, research-grade, topography and bathymetry data. All NSF-funded high resolution topography datasets, regional and global (10-90 m resolution) and community contributed datasets (small to moderate sized datasets) hosted by OpenTopography are open and free for public access.

OpenTopography also provides open and free access to sponsored datasets. For more information on services for the hosting, management, distribution, and processing of topography for government and commercial stakeholders, visit the partner with us page.

In addition, OpenTopography provides value-added data discovery, federated access, and processing services on open datasets like the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), NOAA Coastal lidar data, and Polar Geospatial Center’s ArcticDEM and Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) 2m data to the academic community free of charge. The academic restriction is necessary due to limited funding. During times of emergencies and in response to natural disasters (e.g., Great Vermont floods, Maui Wildfires, Hurricane Ian), OpenTopograhy may temporarily remove these restrictions to aid in recovery and rebuilding, assessment of environmental impacts, and research.