VISIT Guide to Online Sources of Geo-referenced Data

by Beverly Hunter

Teachers in the VISIT Collaboratory are learning to access, query, and apply geo-referenced data, including data sets and software tools from federal, state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.  The following are web-based sources of geo-referenced data being used or recommended by VISIT teachers and leaders. Web sites concerning GIS organizations are not included unless they offer data. Click the title to see a description. In some cases we include also:

  • VISIT participants' discussion of the source, and/or 

  • links to instruction for using the source and its data.

What VISIT Teacher Investigators are learning about sources of geo-referenced data to use in their Investigations. VISIT teachers look for data that will help their students to understand and apply key concepts to their own experience and their own local community's interests. Field data collected by their own students often motivates and provides a starting point for the inquiry. Teachers work with geo-referenced digital data sets available from national, regional, state, and local sources. VISIT staff and collaborating scientists work with individual teachers to assist them in learning how to identify, access, evaluate, and apply existing data bases and student-collected data to their own projects. In the VISIT Collaboratory, teachers learn these skills and concepts by working with data sets that other VISIT teachers have already found to be useful for a particular type and topic of investigation.  VISIT teachers, teacher leaders, and staff also work together to perform these data mining steps with data sets that have not yet been evaluated or processed. Teachers sometimes combine data sets from their students' field data collection with other data sources.

Steps in locating, accessing, evaluating and applying data sets in VISIT:

  1. Becoming aware of national, regional, state, and local sources of data relevant to air and water quality and environmental hazards. The VISIT courses provide overviews and online references to about 20 such sources, with practice exercises in how to locate and access these. Teachers learn to find and acquire geographic data via the Internet from institutions like the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, ESRI's ArcData Online, state and county governments, as well as the VISIT online data sets.
  2. Identifying types and properties of geographic data and metadata, including entities and attributes, spatial data organization, spatial reference systems, data quality, map scale and map projections and georegistration.
  3. Evaluating candidate data sets for their relevance and adequacy for addressing a particular investigation topic,locality, and available tools. Criteria include, for example, parameters, time frame, scale, geographic coverage, file formats, compatibility with other data sets being used in the investigation and compatibility with the software tools the teacher is using for analysis.
  4. Selecting and acquiring appropriate subsets of available data for use in a particular investigation, and performing any needed file format conversions and other preprocessing steps.
  5. Mapping, graphing, and performing other visualization and analysis steps to find patterns, formulate and test hypotheses, interpret relationships in the data, in relation to other sources of knowledge about the phenomena under study.
  6. Preparing presentations of the investigation, such as thematic maps, charts, and written reports that incorporate the data.

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American Fact Finder

The U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder provides data and maps related to population and demographics. The site  is designed to help you find the information you need -- with special features like:
  • Search functions to help you quickly locate any type of information that’s available in FactFinder
  • Basic Facts, where you can find Quick Tables and Geographic Comparison Tables for Population and Housing data and predefined Thematic Maps
  • Geographic Comparison Tables to help you compare data for different geographic areas
  • Detailed Tables that provide data experts with easy access to all tables and maps for each summary file
  • Data Sets, where you can access all available tables for the Decennial Censuses for 1990 and 2000, American Community Survey, conducted annually since 1996, the Economic Census for 1997, and Population Estimates conducted annually beginning in July, 2000
  • Reference Maps that display the boundaries of Census geographic areas, and Thematic Maps that display data items graphically
  • Puerto Rico data en español, a Spanish-language interface to Census 2000 data about Puerto Rico
  • Kids’ Corner, a fun and educational site for kids ages 7 through 11

Tutorials and training materials are available to teach you how to use American Fact Finder. 

American FactFinder Tutorials

American FactFinder lets you search, browse, retrieve, view, map, print, and download Census data.
Learn about American FactFinder by selecting from the following tutorials:

American FactFinder Training Materials

Training materials designed for printing are available in Microsoft PowerPoint format. For Windows users with IE: right-click the file and select 'Save Target as'. Netscape users: click the file and select 'Save it to disk'.

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Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (Robert M. Cushman, Director), which includes the World Data Center for Atmospheric Trace Gases, is the primary global-change data and information analysis center of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

CDIAC responds to data and information requests from users from all over the world who are concerned with the greenhouse effect and global climate change. CDIAC's data holdings include records of the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other radiatively active gases in the atmosphere; the role of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases; emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; long-term climate trends; the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on vegetation; and the vulnerability of coastal areas to rising sea level.

Subject Areas

Message no. 3497 [Branch from no. 3384] posted by Gerry  on Tue Mar 12, 2002 18:55 Subject Re: global change, atmospheric data

Thanks to those of you who responded with site information.  I also found some valuable carbon dioxide data at:

  It includes ice core data from the 1700's as well as a number of other sites around the globe. 


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Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory

The Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, conducts sustained observations and research related to source and sink strengths, trends and global distributions of atmospheric constituents that are capable of forcing change in the climate of Earth through modification of the atmospheric radiative environment, those that may cause depletion of the global ozone layer, and those that affect baseline air quality. CMDL accomplishes this mission primarily through long-term measurements of key atmospheric species at sites spanning the globe, including four fully-equipped Baseline Observatories. These key species include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, surface and stratospheric ozone, halogenated compounds including CFC replacements, hydrocarbons, sulfur gases, aerosols, and solar and infrared radiation. The measurements are of the highest quality and accuracy possible, and document global changes in key atmospheric species, which are all affected by mankind, identifying sources of interannual variability. In addition, research programs in key regions, utilizing an array of platforms including aircraft, balloons, ocean vessels and towers, complement the land-based information. CMDL's data are used to assess climate forcing, ozone depletion and baseline air quality, to develop and test diagnostic and predictive models, and to keep the public, policy makers, and scientists abreast of the current state of our chemical and radiative atmosphere. For more information, visit our online overview or find out more about our five research groups.

In message 3212 on Sun Mar 03, 2002 15:48, Gerry writes:

I have been looking for annual historical data for CO2 and/or methane emissions in table form. I've checked out several of the data sources from our lesson and have also searched on my own and am not having success.  Does anyone know where this type of data can be found? Thanks, gerry

Message no. 3396 [Branch from no. 3368] posted by Joseph on Fri Mar 08, 2002 00:59

Subject Re: Historical Climate Data An even better source is: The Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Lab (CMDL) at NOAA is responsible for monitoring CO2 around the globe. Check out their website at: Then search on carbon dioxide.

Joseph Kerski - USGS -



The Mineral Resources Program provides and communicates current, impartial information on the occurrence, quality, quantity, and availability of mineral resources.The USGS Mineral Resources Program is the only Federal research effort focused on mineral issues that integrates environmental, resource, and economic factors. Recent changes include increased program emphasis on partnering, database accessibility for decisionmaking, mineral environmental studies, assessments of industrial minerals, applied deposit research, and geochemical backgrounds and baselines. Other changes stemmed from the 1996 transfer of the minerals information functions from the former U.S. Bureau of Mines which added extensive capabilities and responsibilities in collecting, assessing, and analyzing the production, consumption, and materials flow of over 100 commodities from 190 countries. For details -


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EnviroMapper for Watersheds

The EnviroMapper for Watersheds application provides users with interactive Geographic Information System (GIS) functionality using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spatial data. EnviroMapper for Watersheds allows users to view spatial data at the national, state, and county levels, as well as utilize GIS functionality, such as displaying multiple spatial layers, zooming, panning, identifying features, and querying single points.  

VISIT has a series of lessons on toxic chemicals in our neighborhood, taking advantage of Enviromapper for Watersheds. See

For details -

Federal Geographic Information Clearinghouse

The Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (FGDC) is a collection of over 250 spatial data servers, that have digital geographic data primarily for use in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), image processing systems, and other modelling software. These data collections can be searched through a single interface based on their descriptions, or metadata.

The Federal Geographic Data Committee coordinates the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The NSDI encompasses policies, standards, and procedures for organizations to cooperatively produce and share geographic data. The 17 federal agencies that make up the FGDC are developing the NSDI in cooperation with organizations from state, local and tribal governments, the academic community, and the private sector. 

The Clearinghouse Activity, sponsored by the FGDC, is a decentralized system of servers located on the Internet which contain field-level descriptions of available digital spatial data. This descriptive information, known as metadata, are collected in a standard format to facilitate query and consistent presentation across multiple participating sites. Clearinghouse uses readily available Web technology for the client side and uses the ANSI standard Z39.50 for the query, search, and presentation of search results to the Web client.

A fundamental goal of Clearinghouse is to provide access to digital spatial data through metadata. The Clearinghouse functions as a detailed catalog service with support for links to spatial data and browse graphics. Clearinghouse sites are encouraged to provide hypertext linkages within their metadata entries that enable users to directly download the digital data set in one or more formats. Where digital data are too large to be made available through the Internet or the data products are made available for sale, linkage to an order form can be provided in lieu of a data set. Through this model, Clearinghouse metadata provides low-cost advertising for providers of spatial data, both non-commerical and commercial, to potential customers via the Internet.

VISIT participants have access to lessons called "Using Metadata and Data Clearinghouses" that assist in using the FGDC.  Contact for more information.

For details -

Geography Network

The Geography Network is a global community of data providers who are committed to making geographic content available. This content is published from many sites around the world, providing you immediate access to the latest maps, data, and related services. This portal to the Geography Network enables you to discover this content and share your own. For details -

GIS DataDepot

The GIS Data Depot houses data in support of the GIS industry. The majority of the data has been downloaded by their staff from a wide range of GIS Web sites located on the Internet.

There is also value added data where they have performed some translation, attribution, analysis, or other data enhancing operations. By providing all of these resources from one convenient location, GeoCommunity has made every effort to ensure that you can locate the data you are searching for in a quick and efficient manner.

Some of the data are free.  There is also a help desk to assist with downloads.

Also be sure to visit the GeoCommunity Software section to access loads of free utilities including data viewers, translators, and user scripts.


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GeoPortals is a collection of free sites designed to help you organize and simplify your searches. These sites are brought to you by the creator of the Software Publishers Association Codie Award winning GeoHistory Maps CD ROMs and the GeoHistory Internet sites.The sites in the network are designed to save you countless hours of sifting through limitless information about your subject and to make your time more useful, enjoyable, and productive. For details -

Global Change Data

This site contains data sets from the USGS Global Change research program.

Global GIS

The Global GIS is built from relatively small scale data (1:1 million scale or 1 Km resolution) and put on seven CD-ROM's organized by regions of the world. Each CD-ROM integrates data for a given region and includes a user-friendly GIS viewer. Also a single DVD-ROM will be created that includes all the data with a refined interface.

The atlases contain the following datasets:
Country political boundaries, digital shaded relief map, elevation, slope, hydrology, locations of cities and towns, airfields, roads, railroads, utility lines, population density, geology, ecological regions, historical seismicity, volcanoes, ore deposits, oil and gas fields, climate data, landcover, vegetation index, and lights at night.

Combining existing global datasets in this manner enhances the impact of individual data products and make the aggregate product attractive to a larger and more diverse customer base. The Global GIS database is designed to be used with the full version of  ArcView 3.0 or higher, or the included free software, ArcView Data Publisher. Each CD will contain a suite of customized ArcView tools specifically designed for the datasets, making it useful for beginners or advanced GIS users. Interface Snapshot

Application of GIS in the geosciences has grown explosively over the past few years as scientists and land-use specialists have been able to prepare thematic maps and determine spatial relations among multiple datasets. Although GIS applications hold great potential for most organizations, their availability and application largely have been limited to institutions that can afford and assemble the necessary hardware, software, datasets, and hard-to-find technical expertise. Our approach can provide a good source of data and GIS tools to the community at large.

The USGS has a well-deserved reputation for the collection, interpretation, and distribution of geologic, hydrologic, cartographic, and biologic data. Although the Bureau's mission is primarily domestic in focus, many of the datasets we develop are global. These include the recently released Global Digital Elevation Model (DEM), a wide variety of remotely sensed products, data on world oil, gas, coal, and mineral deposits, biodiversity, and geologic hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides).

Virtually all of these datasets are readily available in digital form, either on the Internet or on CD-ROM. However, most of them are stand-alone products, and, even though they are readily available, they often require specialized software access. Very few have been combined into integrated products.

See the website for more information and ordering info.


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Guide to Mostly On-Line and Mostly Free U.S. Geospatial and Attribute Data

This list  provides a starting point when beginning to track down sources of digital geospatial data and attributes related to the US. The site is not updated frequently, but it contains a large number of topics and sites.  It isn't meant to suggest one data set or source over another. "I've tried my best to bring you as close as possible to the data and metadata. Please expect some duplication of links. At this time there is no "major" concerted effort being expended on developing this page though I do tinker with it from time to time."  Maintained by volunteer Stephan Pollard.

Historic USGS Maps of New England and New York

The United States Geological Survey began its topographic atlas of the United States in 1882. The University of New Hampshire's Library's Government Documents Department holds a working collection of over 55,000 paper USGS maps. This online collection of over 1500 USGS topographic maps includes complete geographical coverage of New England and New York from the 1890s to 1950s. Searchable by quad index, town index, and map.

Message no. 2981 posted by Henrietta List (v_hlist) on Mon Feb 25, 2002 00:21 Subject New England Historic Topo Maps

(In response to a teacher's request for historic maps of Bangor, Maine):   As promised, here is the web site at UNH.  The images are jpeg, which means they are like photographs as opposed to shape files that ArcView uses. They will at least get you started in seeing what kind of information you may be able to find. They have quads of Bangor for 1902, 1942, 1946 and 1955. There are also maps from all the surrounding areas.

Here is the URL:

  Enjoy, henrietta

LandView III

LandView III is a desktop mapping system that includes database extracts from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of the Census, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These databases are presented in a geographic context on maps that show jurisdictional boundaries, detailed networks of roads, rivers, and railroads, census block group and tract polygons, schools, hospitals, churches, cemeteries, airports, dams, and other landmark features. LandView III is a geographic reference, like an atlas. It displays: - A detailed network of roads, rivers, and railroads based on TIGER/Line® 1995 files. - Jurisdictional and statistical boundaries - a set of generalized boundary files for states, congressional districts (105th), metropolitan areas (June 30, 1996), Native American Indian Areas, Alaska Native lands, counties, and minor civil divisions (for 20 selected states where minor civil divisions function as general purpose governmental units or constitute legal entities), census tracts and block groups. - EPA-regulated sites, a subset of the facilities, sites, and monitoring stations represented in five EPA data bases Aerometric Information Retrieval System (AIRS), Biennial Reporting System (BRS), CERCLA Information System (CERCLIS), Permit Compliance System (PCS), and the Toxic Release Inventory System (TRI). - Selected demographic and economic information from the 1990 Census, and Key geographic features of the United States provided by the United States Geological Survey and other Federal agencies. LandView III enables you to:

  • Create customized street maps showing only those classes of map features of interest.
  • Create thematic maps a graphic display of geographic boundaries and Census bureau statistical data. Users can also create thematic maps from their own databases.
  • Easily determine the census tract and block group associated with a street address or point location on a map.
  • (Local discs only).
  • Calculate an estimate of the number of persons and other demographic characteristics within a radius from a given point.
  • Query the LandView III databases and MARPLOT map objects and export the search results to a separate file in dBase,
  • Lotus, Excel or fixed length text formats. Users may also may link the geographic areas contained in the search results to the map.
  • Create a user defined map layer
  • Automatically match each record in a user file containing latitude and longitude coordinates to the census tract and block group level.

For details -


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Maine GIS Data Catalog

The purpose of this Data Catalog is to provide the public with access to the digital geographic data in the Maine Geographic Information System, maintained by the Maine Office of GIS (MEGIS). Users may use this site to download geographic data and the associated metadata.

Maine GIS data is referenced by the following coordinate system, units, and datum:

UTM Zone 19, meters, NAD 83

The four 'tabs' near the top of this page correspond to the different ways in which our data layers are distributed, 24k Tile (7.5-minute USGS quadrangle map extents), 100k Tile (30x60-minute USGS quadrangle map extents), Town Boundary (township boundaries), and Single Coverage (single continuous coverages, often statewide).

Massachusetts GIS

The Mass GIS web site contains just about every imaginable dataset for Massachusetts, including shapefiles and many other formats.  MassGIS data can be divided into two broad categories: base map data and environmental data. These data have been developed at a variety of scales (see the section Understanding Scale for a brief description on map scale). The data may also be categorized further, based on types of geographic features, such as infrastructure, physical resources, and political boundaries. For descriptions on individual layers see the Available Datalayers page, on which the data are organized within the more-detailed categories. Datalayer descriptions may also be found in the MassGIS Catalog.

VISIT Lesson "Downloading Data from MassGIS" is available at

Michigan Center for Geographic Information

The Michigan Center for Geographic Information (CGI) provides leadership, technical expertise and policy for the development, use, dissemination, promotion and sharing of geographic information in the state of Michigan. Their Geographic Data Library serves as the state's repository of digital geographic information. This site currently contains over 60 unique statewide datasets including the state's basemap (MI Geographic Framework), aerial imagery, geology, hydrography, land ownership, topography, and much more. The MI MAP GALLERY stores a multitude of maps produced by and for various agencies throughout State Government. The MI Mapper offers a variety of "web" mapping applications that state departments are currently making available in subjects from schools to forest pests.


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"MichSeis is the concept that a network of independent, yet cooperative, digital seismographic stations can be operated by schools and institutions throughout Michigan*."  Real-time, recent, and historical data on seismic activity in Michigan.

National Earthquake Information Center

Search for national and world earthquake data on any imaginable parameter: State, magnitude, date or range of years, number of deaths, frequency of occurrence, seismograph station.

National Geographic Maps

The National Geographic Society is the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization. With their Map Machine you can generate all sorts of thematic maps.  They have many different types of map products online and for sale.  For details -

National Hydrography Dataset

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contains information about surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs and wells. Within the NHD, surface water features are combined to form "reaches," which provide the framework for linking water-related data to the NHD surface water drainage network. These linkages enable the analysis and display of these water-related data in upstream and downstream order.

The NHD is based upon the content of USGS Digital Line Graph (DLG) hydrography data integrated with reach-related information from the EPA Reach File Version 3 (RF3). The NHD supersedes DLG and RF3 by incorporating them, not by replacing them. Users of DLG or RF3 will find the National Hydrography Dataset both familiar and greatly expanded and refined.

While initially based on 1:100,000-scale data, the NHD is designed to incorporate and encourage the development of higher resolution data required by many users.

National Hydrography Dataset Tutorial Series. Each tutorial provides students with the opportunity to actively learn about and use NHD data. The tutorials come with sample NHD datasets and ArcView project files. 

The purpose of the NHD Tutorials is to acquaint users with the NHD data model, learn how to use NHD data in simple query-and-display applications, and to access and query NHD metadata. 

The NHD Tutorials are meant to be a companion to the NHD Technical References documentation. There is a great deal of conceptual information, background information, and detailed data-specific information on the NHD Technical References web site. Students are encouraged to consult digital or hard copies of the documents posted on the NHD Technical References site while going through each Tutorial.  

Each Tutorial should take you about 30 to 45 minutes to complete. 


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National Hurricane Center

The NHC provides comprehensive data source on hurricanes and tropical storms, including historical data, imagery, models, and many other forms of information.

National Park Service Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI)

The NRI is a listing of more than 3,400 free-flowing river segments in the United States that are believed to possess one or more "outstandingly remarkable" natural or cultural values judged to be of more than local or regional significance. Under a 1979 Presidential directive, and related Council on Environmental Quality procedures, all federal agencies must seek to avoid or mitigate actions that would adversely affect one or more NRI segments. The NRI is a source of information for statewide river assessments and federal agencies involved with stream-related projects. For any group concerned with ecosystem management, the inventory can provide the location of the nearest naturally- functioning system which might serve as a reference for monitoring activities. It also serves as a listing of plant and animal species for restoration efforts on a similar section of river. For the recreationalist, it provides a listing of free-flowing, relatively undisturbed river segments. For details -

National Soil Survey Center

This appears to be the compleat source of soils information for the U.S.A. More soil surveys are being made available in electronic format. Some are in Portable Document File (PDF) or HTML and are available online. Some have been put on CD's. Some of the more recent online surveys are in Adobe®Acrobat® 5.0. Some are scanned copies and as such are "Historic Replicas". Others have been put into electronic format and are "intermediate" prior to publication. Some of these electronic soil surveys are text only, no maps and other have soils maps available. These electronic format soil surveys are indicated in the "Individual State Listing" "List of Published Soil Surveys". They are also listed in "Online Soil Survey Manuscripts". Not all states have electronic soil surveys available. Check with the state office of the state of your interest.
(Posted July 08, 2002)

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)

You can learn all about the GIS organizations and developments in your state government, including your state government's GIS web sites, from the States in Review section of NSGIC web site. You can download a pdf file about your state. The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is an organization of States committed to efficient and effective government through the prudent adoption of information technology. Members of NSGIC include delegations of senior state geographic information system managers from across the United States. Other members include representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia and other professional organizations..NSGIC is particularly concerned with geographic data and systems.  For details -

Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA)

"State of the Land" provides data and analysis on land use, soil erosion, water quality, wetlands, and other issues regarding the conservation and use of natural resources.   In "Major Land Resource Areas" you can click on the map to zoom in to regional MLRA maps.
From the regional maps you can find out information on specific MLRAs.

When you click on an individual map or table on the subject index pages, you will get --

  • An "Explanation of Analysis," information that is essential to proper interpretation of the map. If you use our analysis products, please be aware of our disclaimer.
  • A link to a downloadable Postscript file you can use to print a map.
  • A link to the related state summary table if available.
  • A link to the data file used to make the map. Data files are in pipe-delimited or comma-delimited ASCII text format. The data file can be used with our GIS coverages to recreate the maps found on this site. Data files are not available for all maps.

Most of the analysis products on this site were created at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and are National in scope. If you seek more local analysis, contact NRCS state and regional offices or other sources referenced on our NRCS GIS and Data page.

  • Data Resources
    Links to NRCS base map coverages, status maps, the National Resources Inventory (NRI) database, and data bases on soil, water and climate, plants for conservation, and other subjects. This site is a node of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

  • Geospatial Data Gateway
    Provides One Stop Shopping for natural resources or environmental data at anytime, from anywhere, to anyone. The Gateway allows you to choose your area of interest, browse and select data from our catalog, customize the format, and have it downloaded or shipped on CD.

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New Jersey Spatial Data Clearinghouse

The clearinghouse is operated by the NJ Office of Geographic Information Systems. The goal of this site is to provide New Jersey citizens and the GIS community with a comprehensive site to find and share GIS information, spatial data, interactive mapping applications and resources. The NJ Spatial Data Clearinghouse is part of a national network of spatial resources that comprises the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The New Jersey Spatial Data Clearinghouse stores metadata from organizations across the state. Use the metadata library to discover and obtain New Jersey GIS datasets. 

To search the metadata library please choose from a search method below:

  • Keyword - search for datasets based on related keyword(s).
  • Recent Additions - view the latest additions to the data library in the past 30 days.
  • Theme - search for datasets based on their thematic content: transportation, hydrography, demographics, etc.
  • Place - search for datasets based on a given place name:Mercer County, State of New Jersey, Newark, etc.
  • Temporal - search for datasets based on time period for which the dataset corresponds to the ground.
  • List All - show all available datasets.

Message no. 3357 Branch from no. 3247 Posted by Alan   on Wed Mar 06, 2002 18:47  

Subject New Jersey GIS data

After reading this thread on importing data into  arcview, I'd like to share 2 resources I've used in the  past: First, for accessing data:

  This is the NJ  geospatial data clearing house. Much of the data is  in ".shp" or "shape file" format - this is the most  user friendly for ArcView 3.x.

  In my searches, much of the data is available in an "E00" format - here is a link that explains what to do with it when you download this data to your  computer: s/e00data/

Hope this helps someone! Alan

NatureServe Explorer

Welcome to NatureServe Explorer, a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals, and ecological communities of the United States and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network. 

You can easily search NatureServe Explorer to find:

scientific and common names

conservation status

distribution maps

life histories, conservation needs, and more


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New National Land Cover Dataset

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have teamed up to compile the first seamless National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD) using satellite imagery for the conterminous United States. At 30-meter resolution, the NLCD is the most detailed land cover information ever compiled at a national level. The new CD-ROMs include data for the states east of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Data for the remaining states will be available within the next six months. The first eight CD's of a planned 31-volume disc set contains 21 categories of land cover information across the lower 48 states. These data are used in a variety of national and regional applications, including watershed management, environmental inventories, transportation modeling and land management."Many federal, state, and local agencies rely on land cover data in making critical decisions related to managing natural resources," said USGS associate director for geography Barbara Ryan. "Land cover has changed considerably since the last data set was developed in the 1970's, and it's important to provide resource managers with the most up-to-date information available."The release of the CD's is the culmination of a five-year effort by the USGS, EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Forest Service to purchase and analyze the necessary Landsat satellite Thematic Mapper imagery used in the NLCD. Scientists at the USGS used a variety of supporting information in addition to the satellite data, including topography, census, agricultural statistics, soil characteristics, other land cover maps, and wetlands data to determine and label the land cover type for each 30-meter pixel. This imagery database is also being used by the partner organizations for their own programs.The NLCD was designed to be compatible with the earlier Land Use/Land Cover data set compiled from 1970's and 1980's aerial photography. The data from these two time periods provide an opportunity to investigate the land cover change in the United States over the last 30 years. The experience gained from this mapping effort will be used to improve the next-generation national land cover data set, which will use Landsat-7 data collected over the next three years.

The CD-ROMs can be ordered from Customer Services at the USGS EROS Data Center (605-594-6151; email; FAX 605-594-6589), contact any other USGS Earth Science Information Center or order online from this address: For more information about the NLCD and the USGS Land Cover Characterization Program, please visit:

As the Nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the sound conservation and economic and physical development of the Nation's natural resources, and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy, and mineral resources. For details -

Joseph Kerski, geographer at the USGS, provided the following additional information in the VISIT Collaboratory:

I have briefly examined the new USGS CDs of the National Land Cover Dataset.  These are geoTIFF files of 21 categories of land cover info derived from Landsat TM imagery.  Only the E 1/3 of the USA is completed so far.  The data is distributed by state with several states on each CD. The initial Landsat TM mosaics, all ancillary data sets, and the land cover product are registered to an Albers Conical Equal Area map projection.

Projection: Albers Conical Equal Area Datum: NAD 83

Spheroid: GRS 80 Standard Parallels:           29.5

degrees north latitude                                 

 45.5 degrees north latitude Central Meridian:         

  96 degrees west longitude Origin of the Projection:  

 23 degrees north latitude False Easting:              

0 meters False Northing:               0 meters


You can't do much analysis with these raw geoTIFFs unless you're working in a remote sensing environment with Image Analysis or Imagine.  However, most people will probably want to convert the image to a GRID, with either ArcInfo or ArcView Spatial Analyst, which provides a grid of the 21 categories.  Then, optionally, depending on whether the user wants to examine the data in a vector or raster mode, one can convert it to a shape file.


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Precipitation (NOAA)

Message no. 4475 posted by Al on Sat Apr 20, 2002 09:37 Subject precipitation data and general Earth Science Info

Here is a source for precip data. This site also contains links to several other potentially useful datasets.

HOURLY/DAILY RAIN DATA: from NOAA, “this web site displays daily and hourly precipitation totals from over 8000 stations throughout the continental United States. We presently have over a years' worth of data on line.” First, choose a 24h period to be viewed, data extend back to 1998, choose whether you want hourly or daily display, and whether you want precipitation values superimposed on the map, a county overlay, or a river overlay. It takes some trial and error to derive meaningful color coded data, but the patterns that emerge are useful for correlating precipitation events with river flooding. Data are provisional, meaning that the quality of the data have yet to be reviewed.

Rouge River National Demonstration Project (RPO).

Water quality data for the Rouge River watershed in Michigan, and GIS DataView software tools for mining and analyzing the data, are available both on CD-ROM and online from the VISIT office at EMU.  


Since mid-1998, Terraserver ( has been serving up millions of images each month from compressed USGS Digital OrthoPhoto Quads (DOQs), Russian SPIN-2 imagery, and more, USGS topographic maps in digital format (Digital Raster Graphics), and links to the USGS stream gaging stations from these DRGs. The Microsoft TerraServer web site is one of the world's largest online databases, with 25 terabytes of disk storage, allowing anyone to quickly and easily use maps and images to explore the United States and certain places around the world with a standard web browser. An average of 40,000 users request 4,000,000 images from the site everyday. This magnificent site grew out of a USGS cooperative research and development agreement with Microsoft tocompress Terrabytes of images using MrSID compression routines. Some images have been available for download and for purchase.

Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies

One of their services, GeoStor,  is an on-line data delivery system that allows the user seamless access to digital map data (GeoData) of any area in Arkansas with no subscription fee. The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) was established at the University of Arkansas in september of 1991 in order to bring together the consideration expertise of a network of researches with a long standing history of GIS development at the University For details -

The National Atlas of the United States of America

Work on a new National Atlas of the United States® began in 1997. This Atlas updates a large bound collection of paper maps that was published in 1970. Like its predecessor, this edition promotes greater national geographic awareness. It delivers easy to use, map-like views of America's natural and sociocultural landscapes. Unlike the previous Atlas, this version is largely digital. The new National Atlas includes products and services designed to stimulate children and adults to visualize and understand complex relationships between environments, places, and people. It contributes to our knowledge of the environmental, resource, demographic, economic, social, political, and historical dimensions of American life.This Atlas serves the interests and needs of a diverse populace in many ways, including:

  • as an essential reference,
  • as a framework for information discovery,
  • as an instrument of education,
  • as an aid in research,
  • and as an accurate and reliable source of government information.
The updated National Atlas is designed to provide a reliable summary of national-scale geographical information. Though it cannot provide detailed map information, the Atlas directs users to other sources for this information.The web pages presented here on '' include the earliest products and services of the new National Atlas of the United States. For details -

The Place for Maps Online is your one stop shop for maps. From driving directions to USA and world maps, has it. Use our search feature or browse our map channels to find what you're looking Site Map For details -

Resources for Earth Science and Geography Instruction

The links are organized around the sequence of topics typically taught in an introductory earth science or physical geography class.  The sites selected are based on image quality, ease with which lesson plans can be developed, organization, authenticity, scope, and format.

Would you like to receive a weekly e-mail featuring reviews of some of the best sites in earth science, environmental science, and geography?  Contact Dr. Mark Francek ( to be added to the "Earth Science Site of the Week" listserv.

Message no. 2928 Posted by Al on Sat Feb 23, 2002 17:33  

Hello All,

  This message contains information about a Earth Science Listserv that regularly posts Earth science sites of interest, as well as a sample posting. I've found it to be a very rich resource of general information, including maps and GIS data. All the sites ever listed are archived at the following site:

Unisys Weather

Includes real-time data, analyses and forecasts. This web site contains thousands of weather related images.   Links to these images are grouped by data type, image type and region.   Links to images generally appear in on each page under a specific heading such as "Regions". 

Since many of the images are rather complex or contain data of meteorological value, image explanation pages are needed.  Explanation documents are provided through links like:
More Information

In some documents, access to these documents can be gained by clicking on the DETAILS icon DETAILS.gif (148 bytes) or the INFO icon.

The images on the site are grouped by data type, image type, or other means.  An index on each HTML page provides an easy means for getting to other main HTML pages.

Message no. 2236 [Branch from no. 2154] posted by VISIT Leaders (VISITWorkshopsandForums) on Tue Nov 13, 2001 10:38

Subject Re: Climate and Weather

Almost all the objectives that John would like to do with his class can be done in one web site which is the UNISYS weather site.  This site runs a large number of gis models to predict weather.  Among the best are the AVN, ETA, MRC models which are used for forecasting. The other site for climate and could also be used for weather prediction is the National Weather Service for John's local area.  On that site there are links to the national climatic data center among other climatic sites.  Both sites have robust satellite and radar images as well. Depending on what you're looking for the data is updated every 15 mins to 6 hours, again depending on the data product.

from Bill Hamilton, VISIT technical consultant

USA Today Weather

  Weather briefs; alerts; radar & satellite images; science; weather basics; hurricanes; severe storms; almanac; week ahead; extremes; safety; regional maps; more.

Message no. 2172 [Branch from no. 2166] posted by Randy  on Thu Nov 08, 2001 14:22

Subject Re: Climate and Weather

In response to John's request for sources of weather and climate data:   The "USA Today" website has a lot of climate and weather information that they are mapping all of the time.  They are using Arc IMS (Internet Map Server) software by ESRI to produce and display all of the map based information they have in the paper.  You might try using this web site to initially get the students working with climate and weather data.  You might even contact the folks at the USA Today web site and tell them you would like to have some of your students work with more of the data that they collect.  I believe you will receive a very positive answer from them.  They keep a good archive of information so you can view data through time.


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U.S. Census Bureau TIGER files

The term TIGER® is the acronym for Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing which is the name for the system and digital database developed at the Census Bureau to support its mapping needs for the Decennial Census and other Bureau programs. The TIGER/Line files are a digital database of geographic features, such as roads, railroads, rivers, lakes, political boundaries, census statistical boundaries, etc. covering the entire United States. The database contains information about these features such as their location in latitude and longitude, the name, the type of feature, address ranges for most streets, the geographic relationship to other features, and other related information. They are the public product created from the Census Bureau's TIGER data base of geographic information. TIGER was developed at the Census Bureau to support the mapping and related geographic activities required by the decennial census and sample survey programs.These files are not graphic images of maps, but rather digital data describing geographic features. To make use of these data, a user must have mapping or Geographic Information System (GIS) software that can import TIGER/Line data. The Census Bureau does NOT provide these data in any vendor-specific format. With the appropriate software a user can produce maps ranging in detail from a neighborhood street map to a map of the United States. To date, many local governments have used the TIGER data in applications requiring digital street maps. Software companies have created products for the personal computer that allow consumers to produce their own detailed maps. There are many other possibilities. 

To learn how to use TIGER files, you can download a series of ESRI lessons "Don't be afraid of the TIGER"  from 

THE TIGER/LINE PRODUCT DOES NOT INCLUDE DEMOGRAPHIC STATISTICS. The Census Bureau's TIGER® System automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the decennial census and sample survey programs of the Census Bureau starting with the 1990 decennial census. The TIGER® System provides support for the following: - Creation and maintenance of the digital geographic data base that includes complete coverage of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the other Pacific entities that were part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia), and the Midway Islands. - Production of maps from the TIGER® database for all Census Bureau enumeration and publication programs. - Ability to assign individual addresses to geographic entities and census blocks based on polygons formed by features such as roads and streams. The design of the TIGER® data base adapts the theories of topology, graph theory, and associated fields of mathematics to provide a disciplined, mathematical description for the geographic structure of the United States and its territories. The topological structure of the TIGER® data base defines the location and relationship of streets, rivers, railroads, and other features to each other and to the numerous geographic entities for which the Census Bureau tabulates data from its censuses and sample surveys. It is designed to assure no duplication of these features or areas. For details -


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water programs and their counterparts in states and pollution control agencies are increasingly emphasizing watershed and water quality-based assessment and integrated analysis of point and nonpoint sources. Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) is a system developed to meet the needs of such agencies. It integrates a geographic information system (GIS), national watershed data, and state-of-the-art environmental assessment and modeling tools into one convenient package. BASINS provides a useful source of information for creating a GIS base map of your locality.Originally released in September 1996, BASINS addresses three objectives: (1) to facilitate examination of environmental information, (2) to provide an integrated watershed and modeling framework, and (3) to support analysis of point and nonpoint source management alternatives. It supports the development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), which require a watershed-based approach that integrates both point and nonpoint sources. BASINS can support the analysis of a variety of pollutants at multiple scales, using tools that range from simple to sophisticated.The heart of BASINS is its suite of interrelated components essential for performing watershed and water quality analysis. These components are grouped into five categories:

  • national databases;
  • assessment tools (TARGET, ASSESS, and Data Mining) for evaluating water quality and point source loadings at a variety of scales;
  • utilities including local data import, land-use and DEM reclassification, watershed delineation, and management of water quality observation data;
  • watershed and water quality models including NPSM (HSPF), TOXIROUTE, and QUAL2E; and
  • post processing output tools for interpreting model results. BASINS’ databases and assessment tools are directly integrated within an ArcView GIS environment. By using GIS, a user can fully visualize, explore, and query to bring a watershed to life. The simulation models run in a Windows environment, using data input files generated in ArcView.

The following is a quote from Charlie Fitzpatrick, education specialist at ESRI:

(BASINS = Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources) It's a rich website with data about watersheds in the 48 conterminous states that can be used for detailed GIS projects. It's even a bit intimidating. BASINS was designed for people doing hardcore watershed analysis, and they have created sophisticated applications using ArcView which can be downloaded or ordered for free. This can all be a bit much for school use, but they also have elevation files plus streams and other data sets, all neatly carved out by 8-digit watershed. All the data are in decimal degree shapefiles, so they work perfectly with ArcView or ArcVoyager. They're great for doing a Community Atlas project, in combination with downloadable TIGER data from the Census. It's a little tricky working with the BASINS site because there is so much there, and EPA just released the BASINS 3 update. 

For a page of instructions for accessing, downloading, and using the BASINS data, which covers the version 3 update, see: If you don't know your 8-digit watershed, the directions link you to the EPA's "Surf Your Watershed" site, where you can find it. Or, if you have ESRI's "GIS for Schools & Libraries" CD, you'll find the 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-digit watersheds on that CD. This year, go beyond just awareness of rivers. Look at what students can do to ensure the long-term health of our rivers. Charlie ----- Charlie Fitzpatrick ESRI Schools & Libraries

Getting BASINS Online

One teacher in VISIT found that EPA was "out of stock" on the BASIN CD's for his region.  The following procedures for getting BASINS online were suggested by Al  in the VISIT Collaboratory:

It may be the CD is currently unavailable, however the
BASINS program (runs under ArcView) and the BASINS data
are available for free download at: THis page will provide an overview and explanation of the BASINS data, the following address will direct you to the BASINS data
by state.

burrow down to your local watershed and you will find the following datasets available for download:

BASINS Core Data  Digital Elevation Model (DEM)  Reach
File Version 3 (RF3)

Core data is very large. The DEM is very cool, but requires a little effort, skill and experience to display properly. I recommend starting with the REACH file, which offers a  detailed shapefile (arcView ready) of your local watershed I'll attach an image of my
watershed. the DEM makes the pretty elevation model of the shed. THe RF3 file provides the stream layer. The image shows the Thumb Bioregion of Michigan. Lake Huron
to the EAst, Lake St. Clair to the South. YOu can zoom into the County Drain level in ArcAnything.

For details -

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CAMEO ® Computer Aided Management of Emergency Operations is a system of software applications used widely to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies. It is one of the tools developed by EPA’s Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Response and Restoration (NOAA), to assist front-line chemical emergency planners and responders. They can use CAMEO to access, store, and evaluate information critical for developing emergency plans. In addition, CAMEO supports regulatory compliance by helping users meet the chemical inventory reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, also known as SARA Title III). CAMEO also can be used with a separate software application called LandView ® to display EPA environmental databases and demographic/economic information to support analysis of environmental justice issues.

The CAMEO system integrates a chemical database and a method to manage the data, an air dispersion model, and a mapping capability. All modules work interactively to share and display critical information in a timely fashion. The CAMEO system is available in Macintosh and Windows formats.MARPLOT ® - Mapping Applications for Response, Planning, and Local Operational TasksMARPLOT is the mapping application for CAMEO. It allows users to "see" their data (e.g., roads, facilities, schools, response assets), display this information on computer maps, and print the information on area maps. The areas contaminated by potential or actual chemical release scenarios also can be overlaid on the maps to determine potential impacts. The maps are created from the U.S. Bureau of Census TIGER/Line files and can be manipulated quickly to show possible hazard areas.

ALOHA ® - Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres -- ALOHA-- is an atmospheric dispersion model used for evaluating releases of hazardous chemical vapors. ALOHA allows the user to estimate the downwind dispersion of a chemical cloud based on the toxicological/physical characteristics of the released chemical, atmospheric conditions, and specific circumstances of the release. Graphical outputs include a "cloud footprint" that can be plotted on maps with MARPLOT to display the location of other facilities storing hazardous materials and vulnerable locations, such as hospitals and schools. Specific information about these locations can be extracted from CAMEO information modules to help make decisions about the degree of hazard posed.  


For details -

U.S. EPA EnviroMapper and Envirofacts

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Envirofacts Warehouse to provide the public with direct access to the wealth of information contained in its databases. The Envirofacts Warehouse allows you to retrieve environmental information from EPA databases on Air, Chemicals, Facility Information, Grants/Funding, Hazardous Waste, Risk Management Plans, Superfund, Toxic Releases, and Water Permits, Drinking Water, Drinking Water Contaminant Occurrence, and Drinking Water Microbial and Disinfection Byproduct Information.You may retrieve information from several databases at once, or from one database at a time. Online queries allow you to retrieve data from these sources and create reports, or you may generate maps of environmental information by selecting from several mapping applications available through EPA's Maps On Demand.  

For a short lesson from VISIT on using Enviromapper, see

For a series of lessons on toxic chemicals in our neighborhood, taking advantage of Enviromapper, see

VISIT Collaboratory Message no. 2144 posted by Marge  on Wed Nov 07, 2001 21:24 Subject Enviromapping

Where has this program been all my life?  Each year we hand-layer environmental information during our Earth science and science fair projects.  Wow!  I just loved the way I could pick and choose what layers to view.  I plan to bring this into school tomorrow. 

For details -

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U.S. EPA EnviroJustice Mapper

The Environmental Justice Query Mapper (EnviroJustice Mapper) was developed as an information resource for the general public . Access to the EnviroJustice Mapper application is being provided via the Internet to provide the general public with easy access to information on EPA permitted facilities and their surrounding communities. EnviroJustice Mapper through a combination of facility and Geographic Information System (GIS) data, creates a facility profile which is then illustrated through the use of GIS maps, in three easy steps. Query, Verify and Go!

U.S. EPA Surf Your Watershed


Surf Your Watershed contains the following databases.  Adopt Your Watershed - Is a database of Watershed groups throughout the nation. You can search for a group in your area either by State, Zipcode, Group Name, Keywords or even Stream Name. Currently over 5537 groups are indexed. Sites and groups are voluntarily submitted. Sites are reviewed. Wetlands Restoration Projects - View ongoing Wetlands Projects, add information about your own project or update previous information about your project. Organized by State and watershed. Currently there are 45 projects.Speak Out Discussion Database - offers you the opportunity to add to online dialog about environmental issues. This moderated bulletin board allows you to compose a comment or view other comments by: Category, Topic, Author or Date.American Heritage Rivers Services - A multi-agency initiative to help communities find support for their rivers. The database offers a "yellow pages" directory of services to help communities revitalize their rivers environmentally, economically and culturally. Currently indexes more than 1163 records. Voluntarily submitted. Sites are reviewed.SURF -Environmental Websites Database- A directory of websites dedicated to environmental issues and information. Search this SURF database using Keywords, Geography, Organization or even by the information medium you desire. You can locate your place and find relevant information. Currently 4941 web sites are indexed. Voluntarily submitted. Sites are reviewed. For details - http:/

U.S. EPA Watershed Information Network Atlas

The Watershed Atlas is a catalog of geo-spatial displays and analyses of information and data important for watershed protection and restoration. You can use the catalog by geography, theme, key word, source/organization, and age of source data (under construction). Or search it using your words.  

Message no. 5860 posted by Donna on Mon Aug 12, 2002 20:51

Subject Watershed Data/Toxic Overloads Data for Lesson 2

Hi all!

We would begin with the discussion of water quality generally for our lesson plans.  This would inevitably contain a strong math/science application, as well as the interdisciplinary one. 

So ... I linked to “Watershed Information Network”

(  There
was a great map of the September 1999 IWI Release rating
 various watershed vulnerability.

Not only was data given, but there was a section titled: “importance of the national watershed characterization.”

Another data set that I found quite interesting, perhaps
even more usable to the unit might be:  Toxic Loads Over Permitted Limits.

Metadata Analysis
Title for the Data: 


Brief Description and list of attributes:

This web-site gives the following data with regard to
water investigation: 1.) National Watershed Information
Overall, 2.) Waters Meeting Designated Uses, 3.) Fish
and Wildlife Consumption Advisories, 4.) Indicators of
Source Water Condition, 5.) Contaminated Sediments, 6.)
Ambient Water Quality-Toxics, 7.) Ambient Water
Quality-Conventional, 8.) Wetlands Loss, 9.)
Aquatic/Wetlands Species at Risk, 10.) Loads Over
Limits-Toxics, 11.) Loads Over Limits-Conventional, 12.)
Urban Runoff Potential, 13.)Agricultural Runoff
Potential, 14) Population Change, 15) Hydrologic
Modification Caused by Dams, 16.) Estuarine Pollution
Susceptibility, 17.) Atmospheric Deposition, 18.)
Nitrogen Export, 19.) Soil Permeability Index, 20.) Risk
of Groundwater Nitrate Contamination by Nitrate, 21.)
Percent of Impaired Waters.

Geographical Area: Entire United States.

Data Sources:  a.)Origin: The data was initially collected by EPA in collaboration with other partners. (See next entry)

b.) Availability:   “The Index is based on the June
1996, Indicators of Water Quality in the United States,
developed by EPA in partnership with States, Tribes,
private organizations, and other Federal Agencies.”

taken from, Index of Watershed Indicators: An Overview,

Date of Collection: From 1780s to present 1990s
(Wetlands), from 1970 to 1995 (Risk of Groundwater
Nitrate Contamination); various, based on data set.

Data Collection Methods: The data was originally
collected depending on type of water quality measured.
For instance, three data sets are combined to produce a
partial picture of the condition of rivers,
lakes/reservoirs, and ground waters used by public
drinking water systems. While the contaminated sediments
data includes data from sediment chemical analysis,
sediment toxicity data, and fish tissue residue data.
The ambient water quality data shows “percent
exceedences of national criteria levels, over a six year
period (1990-1996), of copper, chromium (hexavalent),
nickel, and zinc.” from, Index of Watershed Indicators:
An Overview,

Spatial Reference: “A watershed is the land area that drains to a waterbody and affects its flow, water level, loadings of pollutants, etc….Watersheds are defined in nature by topography.  The US Geological Survey has developed a Hydrologic Unit Classsification (HUC) System of watersheds at various scales and mapped these watershed.  The IWI is depicted at the ‘eight digit scale—the smallest nationally consistent set of watersheds in the HUC system.’

Projection or Coordinate System: Varies based on sample
type, similar in format:  “This map is a representation of threatened and impaired streams, rivers, coastlines, estuaries, lakes and wetlands within an 8-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC), divided by the total number of water miles within the HUC.”

File Type: This data has been found in these types of
files: CSV, GIF, MDB, TXT, HTTP, WPD (again depending on data)

Size of Data Set: Various file sizes, when listed: 8 to 50 KB generally

For details -

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U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

This site provides all imaginable information about the Hawaiian volcanoes. The Hawaiian Islands are at the southeastern end of a chain of volcanoes that began to form more than 70 million years ago. Many of these volcanoes formed islands that have subsided and eroded beneath sea level, and some of the old volcanoes probably never reached sea level. Each Hawaiian island is made of one or more volcanoes, which first erupted on the sea floor and only emerged above the ocean's surface after countless eruptions.

The largest and most southeastern island of the chain, Hawai`i, consists of five volcanoes. Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai have erupted in the past 200 years. Lo`ihi, the youngest volcano of the Hawaiian Volcanic Chain, is still about 1,000 meters beneath the ocean's surface. East Maui Volcano, commonly known as Haleakala, on the island of Maui, is the only other Hawaiian volcano to have erupted since the late 1700's.

U.S. Geological Survey Real Time Water Data

Using a map you can select the 10 nearest stations to the point you click, a list of all the stations in a state, or an interactive map of a state. You also may use a list to obtain data by state. The stream-gaging program of the USGS does not represent a single "network" of stations, but is an aggregation of networks and individual stream flow stations that originally were established for various purposes. Because the data from about 4,200 of the 7,292 stations are telemetered by an earth-satellite-based communications system, those data are available in realtime for many agencies to conduct water-resources projects and for the National Weather Service (NWS) to forecast floods. Data from the active stations, as well as from discontinued stations, are stored in a computer data base that currently holds mean daily-discharge data for about 18,500 locations and more than 400,000 station-years of record, or more than 146 million individual mean daily-discharge values. Additional data are added to the database each year. The stream-discharge data base is an ever-growing resource for water-resources planning and design, hydrologic research, and operation of water-resources projects. Increasing the length of individual station records is valuable for at least two reasons. Additional years of record provide ever-improving accuracy of estimates of stream flow characteristics, such as the magnitude of extreme infrequent floods or low flows, and an opportunity to determine how stream flow characteristics are changing over time due to such causes as agricultural practices, urbanization, ground-water development, or climate change. Today, more than one-half of the currently operating stations have equipment that permits immediate transmission of data by means of satellite from the data-collection site. By using the telemetry, data are transmitted around the clock by means of two geo-stationary operations environmental satellites (GOES) that are positioned above the Earth at an altitude 22,300 miles above the Equator over the eastern Pacific Ocean and Brazil. The satellites are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These data then are retransmitted by means of a domestic satellite, and the resulting signal is received by the USGS and other users. The transmission and receipt of the signals are automated, as are the provisional discharge computations that are available for meeting current data needs. For details -

Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN)

The Virginia Spatial Metadata Clearinghouse Search Tool lets you customize your search in four different areas:

  • Nodes: Simultaneously search one or more data sources from around the state, region and country.
  • Keywords: Enter up to four keywords or phrases to specify the type of data desired.
  • Location (optional): Identify the geographic area you are interested in by selecting from the menus or drawing on a map.
  • Time Period (optional): Specify the time period for the data you want.

A Virginia Spatial Metadata Clearinghouse search returns titles of data sets that match your selection criteria. Each title links you to a detailed description of the data, called metadata, which includes the most important facts about the data and information on how to obtain a copy. Data often can be downloaded directly through the metadata.

Water on the Web

WOW's  primary goal is to train students to understand and solve real-world environmental problems. Water on the Web (WOW) offers unique opportunities for high school and first year college students to learn basic science through hands-on science activities, in the lab and in the field, and by working with state-of-the-art technologies accessible through a free web site. Teacher and student lesson plans can be found on the site under the headings "Teacher" and "Student".

Real water quality data, provided in real-time and archived formats, is obtained through the project's Remote Underwater Sampling Stations (RUSS). Currently we are providing data from five RUSS units that are located in four Minnesota lakes.

Data visualization tools embedded in the web site allow students to see and explore relationships that might be lost to them when the data appears as just arrays of numbers. The data visualization tools and data are both found under the "Data" portion of the site.

Message no. 2861 Posted by Cris  on Thu Feb 21, 2002 17:44

Water on the Web. 

This site allows students (and teachers) to work with
either real-time or archived data from 5 Minnesota
lakes. The impact of human development on lake ecology
and the overall water quality within the region is
studied. GIS (maps and an interactive section) is used
to help users understand the region being studies.
ArcIMS allows you to view maps and manipulate them
on-line, without having GIS software installed on your

The site is divided into two main sections; one for
teachers and one for students. The teacher area contains
many very well done lesson plans. The student area is
divided into two components: directed study and inquiry.
One lesson I examined more closely involved data
interpretation. The tool the site has the students use in this lesson is Excellent.

Message no. 2895 Posted by jacklyn on Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:33

 I found the WOW material very useful
in applying to any topic. The material is well organized
and gives strong student instruction as well good
teacher support.   It shows student application directly
so there is no real need for a busy teacher to reinvent
activites. It has very interesting initial research
questions that students could take to a variety of
levels and easily expand upon. The data is obtained from
 a WOW site and analyzed using excel, a program most of
us have access to.  They use poster presentation for
reporting out and give very good hints as to what makes
a good reseach poster.  It is a good lead in for science
projects in science fairs as well  in poster design,
scienctific method and data analysis.  This activity
also gives strong support for student sto use graphs to
display data as an effective communication tool.  I
think it could be a great early lesson for students,
especially young students.  Jackie

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The Weather Underground

This user-friendly and very popular weather information site was originally designed by a graduate student in meteorology at the University of Michigan to provide real-time weather data to school children. The name "The Weather Underground" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 1960's radical group that also originated at the University of Michigan in 1991. The web site matured in 1998 with the addition of several foreign languages, leading the Weather Underground toward its current state as the most widely translated weather site in the world - over 35 languages. Media Metrix named the site as the #5 most used sites by kids.

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This guide was developed by Beverly Hunter, Piedmont Research Institute, for Project VISIT.  This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation Teacher Enhancement program.


© Copyright by VISIT, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, 48197, USA
This page was updated on Aug 22, 2003