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Discussion: Disappearing Source of FREE LiDAR in USA

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 8, 2018 9:45 AM # 
Have any of you American mappers used Earth Explorer as your source of LiDAR for your mapping projects?
For US projects I use it all the time. For finding and downloading there is no comparison. It is like driving the family minivan compared to an 18 wheel transport truck.
Find the area
Search if LiDAR is available (it isn't always)
Download the .laz files
Upload them to OCAD or OOM. With OCAD 12 there is a 'wizard' to make it even easier
And batta bing batta boom you have your LiDAR generated contours on your orienteering map.
Well of course there are a few intermediate steps but just click click.
Why am I telling you this? You probably already know it.
Well if you have not been to Earth Explorer in a while you may not know that USGS is turning off this tap of free and open source LiDAR as of Sept 30 2018
My advice to you is to stock up while you can. If you are thinking of doing an orienteering mapping project some time in the future some where in the future got to Earth Explorer and see if you can stock up now. Once you have those laz files on your computer or Cloud or on a usb stick they won't go away. However once Earth Explorer closes the tap we'll have to learn to 'drive a semi' to get the information.
Sep 8, 2018 11:53 AM # 
I think most of USGS LAZ data just moved to National Map viewer
From what I saw in the past couple of years all the new USGS datasets were posted at the new location.
"LAZ in Cloud" is another link that I use to see coverage quickly but the downloads work better from the link above.
Sep 8, 2018 11:48 PM # 
Yes, I hear that the information is there but for me it is just not clear how to get .laz files from there or even identify that they are there. The two I've got somewhere with end up showing anything but contour information. Maybe someday somehow someone will put together a simple tutorial for that alternative access to USGS LiDAR information but so far anyone who tries just throws in terms that the dummy I am just does not understand.
Judging from the amount of comment here it is just not an issue for anyone else so I'll spend the next few weeks thinking of possible places I might want to make an orienteering map, downloading and storing the LiDAR tiles I understand.
Sep 9, 2018 8:37 PM # 
Hey @gordhun:

Change is hard (or as my Finance faculty say: 'expensive'). A quick 'how to' for you:

  • Go to National Map Viewer

  • Check the "Elevation Source Data (3DEP) - Lidar, IfSAR" checkbox, in the 'Data' section on the left (note the 'Lidar')

  • Check 'Lidar Point Cloud (LPC)' (if it's not) in the 'Product Search Filter' section on the left

  • Scroll & Zoom around on the map, till you have the general area you're interested in showing in the 'view'

  • Click the blue 'Find Products' button (this searches the DB and creates a list of all items)

  • Select 'Download LAZ' link next to each item you are interested in

  • If you're not sure, you can select 'Footprint' next to each item, to see the extents of the data on the map (it's a toggle, so once to view, again, to hide)

  • That's pretty much it for simple use. I remember it being confusing when I first started using it, but can't remember what was confusing at this point ... it's intuitive to me now. So instead of spending a few weeks downloading the files you want to keep, I'd suggest finding a few on the new site, and that will get you 'trained up' in its use. Good luck!
    Sep 9, 2018 8:40 PM # 
    Here's the announcement if you click through from EarthExplorer:

    I have been told that EarthExplorer is going away, and The National Map website is the preferred website for this data. However, in a lot of cases in the last six months, EarthExplorer had stuff that TNM didn't have. Older lidar, and especially older aerials.

    I suggest we pick some locations that have lidar we want on EE and make sure it's showing up at TNM.

    One place I just checked had identical lidar available at The National Map (the new site) and at EarthExplorer. (Eno River State Park, NC).
    Sep 10, 2018 5:27 PM # 
    Hooray! Now that I've checked The National Map, it appears the LA County data was finally loaded in July. Now we just need to get Ventura County, Kern County, and San Bernardino County availability.
    Sep 10, 2018 5:39 PM # 
    OMG! Awesome!
    Sep 11, 2018 5:18 AM # 
    I just tried to download five or so areas around LA County, and TNM had nothing. It shows "availability" if you click "show availability", but it doesn't show any results.
    Sep 11, 2018 3:22 PM # 
    Interesting. When I go in now, I can't even get the footprints I was getting a few days ago. But it shows DEMs.
    Sep 11, 2018 5:16 PM # 
    Just this morning I downloaded 7 tiles covering two areas in Orange County CA. I used Earth Explorer and the tiles came a little slowly but they came.
    My experience trying both Earth Explorer and TNM is that the latter is even way slower than EE. I'm staying with EE until it is gone.

    This discussion thread is closed.