Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is an airborne mapping technique, which uses a laser to measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground.
This technique of surveying has gained great significance in the past few years, with a lot of applications in the fields of Agriculture, Forestry, Military, Soil Science, Atmospheric Research, Urban Mapping etc.
Lidar uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to image objects. It can target a wide range of materials, including non-metallic objects, rocks, rain, chemical compounds, aerosols, clouds and even single molecules. A narrow laser-beam can map physical features with very high resolutions of up to 30 cm/px.
Wondering where the best places are to look for LiDAR data to download? Here they are!
- Wikipedia: US LIDAR A page devoted to all known US state- and county-wide collections; perhaps an “all countries with LIDAR” wikipage can’t be too far behind?
- NOAA’s LDART Page This is the most straightforward place to find LIDAR data readily available for downloading, but in keeping with NOAA’s mission, the focus is heavily on data from states that have at least some coastline. Scroll down a bit on this page to see list of states represented.
- CLICK (USGS) The USGS Center for LIDAR Information Coordination and Knowledge (CLICK); see their Data Viewer tab
- NOAA’s State Projects Page Select states of interest in the “Projects in My State” pull-down menu to ferret out clues about which state agencies *might* have data that they *might* be willing to share with you
- USGS Seamless Data Distribution Service This is increasingly the main (federal) repository for LiDAR info, but using the application takes patience.
- OpenTopography Data, DEMs, and some tools; not that much data yet, but seems to have the right ideas and has received NSF $ to beef up
- LiDAR Data Portal Over 1 million sq km of already-collected LiDAR data and derived information, either free or for sale at nominal cost
- USDA Data Gateway Although bulk of data is NAIP imagery, some LiDAR-based elevation info is here; see Get Data button
- Puget Sound LIDAR Consortium Folks interested in Western Washington state can get LIDAR data here from this productive consortium