GIS Data for Water

United States

Impervious Cover – Multi-Resolution Land Cover Data (US government agencies)

2001 land cover, impervious cover, and canopy cover data set produced by the MRLC Consortium of US federal agencies (EPA, USGS, US Forest Service, etc.). The 1992 landcover data set is complete for the entire US. Production of 2001 landcover, impervious cover, and canopy cover is underway – see Production Status link for a map of what stage each region is in. Note: although the production status may show an area complete, you may have to go to the FTP data download link to actually get the data. The Dynamic Map download choice does not seem to be updated regularly. Read the metadata to understand the attribute information. The data is a raster data set with 30 meter pixels.

Learning about using hydrography data in GIS

This is Professor David Maidment’s web site at the Center for Research in Water Resources at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Maidment is a hydrologist and an international expert in the use of GIS in hydrologic analysis. Under his classes link, you can find his course web sites, all of which have exercises and data sets focusing on using water resource information in GIS.  See especially the links for GIS in Water Resources. There are also videos of his lectures available. Note: the web site doesn’t seem to work with Mozilla, so try it with Internet Explorer.

National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise (USGS Woods Hole Field Center)

Includes links to a preliminary GIS data set that attempts to give a national overview of coastal vulnerabiliy to sea level rise, plus a number of reports and regional studies.

National Hydrography Data Set (USGS)

From the NHD web site: “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.

National Wetland Inventory (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Wetlands mapping for the entire US from USGS 1:24,000 topographic maps – note that data can be downloaded from this US Fish and Wildlife Service web site, but many states also make these data sets available pre-formatted in state plane coordinate systems (e.g., see MassGIS National Wetland Inventory site –

PRISM (Oregon State University)

Good site for precipitation and other climate data. From the web site: “This OSU PRISM Group web site provides access to the highest-quality spatial climate data sets currently available. These data sets were created using the PRISM climate mapping system, developed by Dr. Christopher Daly, PRISM Group director. PRISM is unique in that it incorporates a spatial climate knowledge base that accounts for rain shadows, temperature inversions, coastal effects, and more in the climate mapping process.”

USGS – Science in your Watershed – Links by Watershed

Great site for specifying a watershed (e.g., Charles River) and retrieving a comprehensive listing of USGS data for that watershed, including stream flow, water use, GIS data, etc.) – for example, see the links for the Charles River watershed –

USGS – Water Resources Division Maps and GIS Information

Lots of links to US water data – under the full list link, you’ll find dozens of miscellaneous data sets ranging from hydrological basins to geology to water quality to demographic data.

Global Water Data Sets

Global Runoff Data Center

Digital world-wide repository of river discharge data, including mean, minimum, maximum monthly discharges and time series of most major rivers of the world, plus GIS data for basins and river networks. Data requesters must identify themselves first, agree to usage requirements, and wait for approval.

Hydro 1K

Hydrographic data derived from the GTOPO 1 kilometer digital elevation models. These are 1 km DEM-derived  hydrographic data (elevatioin, slope, streams, aspect) – not highly accurate but better than nothing and available for the entire world in shape/grid format (downloads as .tar file)

USGS – Hydrosheds

Digital elevation models and hydrologic base data derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and other sources at 90 meter grid cell resolution – more detailed than the Hydro 1K data, but not available for the whole world yet (as of 10/18/06, South America is complete). See the web site for details on how the SRTM and other data sources were processed, and for status of other areas and expected completion dates.

Water Resources Programme – Isotope Hydrology (Internationa Atomic Energy Agency)

Information, including GIS-based online mapping and data download sets, focusing on exploring the “fingerprints” of water for understanding sources, movements, rates of recharge, pathways, etc.