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Information on open source GIS and data set sources


Map Projections

Learning GIS

Data Sources

Catalogs for look up specific data

  • United States Interagency Elevation Inventory — The U.S. Interagency Elevation Inventory is a comprehensive, nationwide listing of known high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data for the United States and its territories.
  • Earthdata — NASA promotes the full and open sharing of all its data to research and applications communities, private industry, academia, and the general public. In order to meet the needs of these different communities, NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) has provided various ways to discover, access, and use the data.
  • Earthdata Data Recipes — Data recipes are tutorials or step-by-step instructions that have been developed by the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) staff or EOSDIS systems engineers to help users learn how to discover, access, subset, visualize and use our data, information, tools and services. These recipes cover many different data products across the Earth science disciplines and different processing languages/software.
  • TopoView — TopoView highlights one of the USGS's most important and useful products, the topographic map. In 1879, the USGS began to map the Nation's topography. This mapping was done at different levels of detail, to support various land use and other purposes. As the years passed, the USGS produced new map versions of each area. TopoView shows the many and varied topographic maps of each of these areas through history. This can be particularly useful for historical purposes, such as finding the names of natural and cultural features that have changed over time.
  • The National Map (Basic)
  • The National Map (Advanced)
  • Giovanni — The Bridge Between Data and Science.
  • ECS Data Access — NCEI archives bathymetric, gravity, magnetic, seismic, and geologic sample data from the U.S. coastal waters to the deep ocean. Data collected as part of the U.S. ECS Project are in the public domain and made available as rapidly as possible.
  • USGS EROS Archive - Products Overview — Explore the world’s largest civilian collection of images of the Earth’s surface. Find satellite images and data, aerial photography, elevation and land cover datasets, digitized maps, and our Image Gallery collections.
  • Coastal Elevation Models — NCEI builds and distributes high-resolution, coastal digital elevation models (DEMs) that integrate ocean bathymetry and land topography supporting NOAA's mission to understand and predict changes in Earth's environment, and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our Nation's economic, social, and environmental needs.
  • Digital Elevation Data — Links to many different sources of DEMs from around the world.

OpenStreetMap Data

Natural Earth Map Data

  • Natural Earth Data — Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. Featuring tightly integrated vector and raster data, with Natural Earth you can make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software.

Digital Elevation Maps

Typical data sources include the following scales (adapted from Getting USGS Data).

Arc Meters (approximate) Used for
1 degree 110 kilometers
7.5 arc minutes 14 kilometers Size of a traditional map "quad"
30 arc seconds 1 kilometer Global elevation
15 arc seconds 0.5 kilometer
3 arc seconds 90 meters World-wide SRTM
1 arc second 30 meters DEM from topo, USA SRTM
1/3 arc second 10 meters DEM from topo
1/9 arc second 3.4 meters Newer DEM from LIDAR


1/30 arc second (~1 meter)

1/9 arc second (~3 meter)

1/3 arc second (~10 meter)

  • NHDPlus High ResolutionThe NHDPlus HR is a national, geospatial model of the flow of water across the landscape and through the stream network. The NHDPlus HR is built using the National Hydrography Dataset High Resolution data at 1:24,000 scale or better, the 1/3 arc-second (10 meter ground spacing) 3D Elevation Program data, and the nationally complete Watershed Boundary Dataset.

1 arc second (~30 meter)

15 arc second (~500 meter)

  • SRTM15+V2.0 — FTP — figshare
  • GEBCO 2019 Gridded Bathymetry Data — GEBCO’s gridded bathymetric data set, the GEBCO_2019 grid, is a global terrain model for ocean and land at 15 arc-second intervals.
  • SRTM15_PLUS — To provide an improved mapping of the seafloor fabric globally, we have used available sounding data along with an improved global marine gravity model to develop at grid at 15 arcsecond resolution (~500 m). Land elevations are based on the best available data from SRTM, ASTER digital elevation models while the ice topography of Greenland and Antarctica is based on CryoSat-2 and IceSat. Ocean bathymetry is based on bathymetric predictions from the latest global gravity model from CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 along with 494 million carefully edited depth soundings at 15 arcsecond resolution. Bathymetry of the Arctic seafloor is based on the IBCAO grid with improved resolution in areas of multibeam coverage. We have used the bathymetry grid along with the improved gravity to construct a global map of abyssal hill amplitude and orientations and compare the orientations with predictions from seafloor age gradient analysis. Areas of disagreement reveal propagating rifts, microplates, and tectonic reorganizations. This SRTM15_PLUS provides the foundational bathymetry layer for Google Earth and is freely available at our ftp site (

30 arc seconds (~1 km)

  • USGS EROS Archive - Digital Elevation - Global 30 Arc-Second Elevation (GTOPO30) — GTOPO30 is a global digital elevation model (DEM) with a horizontal grid spacing of 30 arc seconds (approximately 1 kilometer). GTOPO30 was derived from several raster and vector sources of topographic information.
  • GMTED2010 — The USGS and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) have collaborated on the development of a notably enhanced global elevation model called the Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data (GMTED2010), which has replaced GTOPO30 as the elevation dataset of choice for global and continental scale applications.
  • USGS EROS Archive - Digital Elevation - Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010 (GMTED2010) — The Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010 (GMTED2010) provides a new level of detail in global topographic data. The GMTED2010 product suite contains seven new raster elevation products for each of the 30-, 15-, and 7.5-arc-second spatial resolutions and incorporates the current best available global elevation data.

Geological Data

Paleobiological Data

GIS Software

Desktop Mapping Tools

  • OSGeoLive — self-contained bootable DVD, USB thumb drive or Virtual Machine based on Lubuntu, that allows you to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.
  • QGIS — A Free and Open Source Geographic Information System.
  • Alex's QGIS Python Plugins — A collection of QGIS plugins written by Alexander Bruy.
  • GRASS — GRASS GIS is a Geographic Information System used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/map production, spatial modeling, and visualization.
    • Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is a Geographic Information System (GIS) technology built for vector and raster geospatial data management, geoprocessing, spatial modelling and visualization.

  • gvGIS — gvSIG Desktop (gvSIG from this point forward) is a Geographical Information System in free software, that is, a computer application aimed to represent, edit, analyze and manage information from the point of view of spatial relations.
  • WhiteboxTools Open Core — WhiteboxTools is an advanced geospatial software package and a data analysis platform developed at the University of Guelph’s Geomorphometry and Hydrogeomatics Research Group (GHRG). The project began in January 2017 and quickly evolved in terms of its analytical capabilities. Contains more than 450 tools for processing various types of geospatial data.
  • The Generic Mapping Tools — The Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) are widely used across the Earth, Ocean, and Planetary sciences and beyond. A diverse community uses GMT to process data, generate publication-quality illustrations, automate workflows, and make animations. Scientific journals, posters at meetings, Wikipedia pages, and many more publications display illustrations made by GMT. And the best part: it is free, open source software licensed under the LGPL.
    • GMT is an open source collection of about 90 command-line tools for manipulating geographic and Cartesian data sets (including filtering, trend fitting, gridding, projecting, etc.) and producing high-quality illustrations ranging from simple x–y plots via contour maps to artificially illuminated surfaces, 3D perspective views and animations. The GMT supplements add another 50 more specialized and discipline-specific tools. GMT supports over 30 map projections and transformations and requires support data such as GSHHG coastlines, rivers, and political boundaries and optionally DCW country polygons.

  • GeoMapApp
    • GeoMapApp is a map-based application for browsing, visualizing and analyzing a diverse suite of curated global and regional geoscience data sets. These cover geophysics, geology, geochemistry, physical oceanography, climatology, and more.

    • GeoMapApp provides data layering, display customization and analytical tools to support the analysis of multidisciplinary data sets. Choose from Mercator, North polar and South polar projections. Save the images for papers and presentations.

    • Not open source, but freely available.
  • GPlatesSourceforge
    • GPlates is a plate tectonics program. Manipulate reconstructions of geological and paleogeographic features through geological time. Interactively visualize vector, raster and volume data. PyGPlates is the GPlates Python library. Get fine-grained access to GPlates functionality in your Python scripts.

  • GeoGig — GeoGig is an open source tool that draws inspiration from Git, but adapts its core concepts to handle distributed versioning of geospatial data.
    • Users are able to import raw geospatial data (currently from Shapefiles, PostGIS or SpatiaLite) in to a repository where every change to the data is tracked. These changes can be viewed in a history, reverted to older versions, branched in to sandboxed areas, merged back in, and pushed to remote repositories.

    • GeoGig is written in Java, and available under the Eclipse Distribution License (a BSD 3 Clause license).



3D Relief Map Making

Frontend Frameworks (Client Only)

  • Dymaxion projection in OpenLayers
  • GeoMoose — GeoMoose is a Web Client JavaScript Framework for displaying distributed cartographic data. GeoMoose has a number of strengths including modularity, configurability, and delivers a number of core functionalities in its packages. GeoMoose is also very light weight for servers making it easy to handle a large number of users, with a large number of layers, and a large number of services without stressing a server.
  • GeoExt — JavaScript Toolkit for Rich Web Mapping Applications
    • Uses Ext and OpenLayers.

Front End Libraries

  • CesiumJS — An open-source JavaScript library for world-class 3D globes and maps. 🌎
  • Leaflet — Leaflet is the leading open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps. Weighing just about 39 KB of JS, it has all the mapping features most developers ever need.
  • OpenLayers — OpenLayers makes it easy to put a dynamic map in any web page. It can display map tiles, vector data and markers loaded from any source. OpenLayers has been developed to further the use of geographic information of all kinds. It is completely free, Open Source JavaScript, released under the 2-clause BSD License (also known as the FreeBSD).
  • geotiff.js — geotiff.js aims to support as many TIFF features as possible, including various image compression methods, geographical information, internal tiling, pixel or band interleaving, automatic transformation from several color spaces to RGB, and much more.
  • plotty.js — Plotting library experiments using WebGL and Canvas2D to apply color scale to a bufferarray object.
  • GPU.JS — GPU.js is a JavaScript Acceleration library for GPGPU (General purpose computing on GPUs) in JavaScript for Web and Node. GPU.js automatically transpiles simple JavaScript functions into shader language and compiles them so they run on your GPU. In case a GPU is not available, the functions will still run in regular JavaScript. For some more quick concepts, see Quick Concepts on the wiki.

Application Frameworks (Client/Server Combined)

  • GeoNode — GeoNode is a web-based application and platform for developing geospatial information systems (GIS) and for deploying spatial data infrastructures (SDI).
    • GeoNode is a geospatial content management system, a platform for the management and publication of geospatial data. It brings together mature and stable open-source software projects under a consistent and easy-to-use interface allowing non-specialized users to share data and create interactive maps.

    • GeoNode is built upon a platform of proven open source components including Django, GeoServer, pycsw, OpenLayers and GeoExt. GeoNode implements many Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards, including Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), Web Coverage Service (WCS), KML, and Catalogue Service for Web (CSW). GeoNode development also contributes to the underlying open source projects and software libraries.

    • GeoSHAPE — A Django package that adds GeoSHAPE functionality to GeoNode.
    • MapLoom — MapLoom is a web mapping client based on OpenLayers 3. It provides full-featured editing capabilities for data stores in GeoServer - including PostGIS and GeoGig. For GeoGig layers, it lets you view history, and sync with other GeoGig repositories.
    • GeoGig — GeoGig is an open source tool that draws inspiration from Git, but adapts its core concepts to handle distributed versioning of geospatial data.
  • Geomajas — Geomajas is a collection of free and open source GIS libraries, tools and API's for a complete end-to-end web mapping solution.
  • MapFish — MapFish is a flexible and complete framework for building rich web-mapping applications. It emphasizes high productivity, and high-quality development. MapFish is based on the Pylons Python web framework. MapFish extends Pylons with geospatial-specific functionality. For example MapFish provides specific tools for creating web services that allows querying and editing geographic objects.
  • GeoSHAPE (Geospatial capabilities for Security, Humanitarian Assistance, Partner Engagement) [This seems to not be available anymore. -JB] — GeoSHAPE gives organizations the ability to create, share, and visualize information through dynamic, collaborative maps.

GIS Servers (Server Only)

  • GeoServer — GeoServer is an open source server for sharing geospatial data. Written in Java, GWT, & Javascript.
  • Tegola — An open source vector tile server written in Go, Tegola takes geospatial data and slices it into vector tiles that can be efficiently delivered to any client.
  • IstSOS — IstSOS is an OGC SOS server implementation written in Python.
    • SOS stands for Sensor Observation Service.
  • deegree — deegree is open source software for spatial data infrastructures and the geospatial web. deegree offers components for geospatial data management, including data access, visualization, discovery and security. Open standards are at the heart of deegree.
    • deegree webservices are implementations of the geospatial webservice specifications of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the INSPIRE Network Services. deegree webservices 3.4 includes the following services:

    • With a single deegree webservices installation, you can set up one of the above services, all of them or even multiple services of the same type. The remainder of this chapter introduces some notable features of the different service implementations and provides learning trails for learning the configuration of each service.

  • collada2gltf-web-service — Simple Node.js web service to convert 3D models from COLLADA to glTF.
  • PostGIS — PostGIS is a spatial database extender for PostgreSQL object-relational database. It adds support for geographic objects allowing location queries to be run in SQL.

Data at Scale (Tools for Building Massive Systems to Process Data)

  • SELEN — Program for solving the sea level equation.
  • GeoMesa — Store, index, query, and transform spatio-temporal data at scale. in HBase, Accumulo, Cassandra, Kafka and Spark.
  • GeoWave — GeoWave provides geospatial and temporal indexing on top of Accumulo and HBase.
  • GeoTrellis — GeoTrellis is a geographic data processing engine for high performance applications.
  • Pangeo — "Pangeo is first and foremost a community promoting open, reproducible, and scalable science. This community provides documentation, develops and maintains software, and deploys computing infrastructure to make scientific research and programming easier. The Pangeo software ecosystem involves open source tools such as xarray, iris, dask, jupyter, and many other packages. There is no single software package called 'pangeo'; rather, the Pangeo project serves as a coordination point between scientists, software, and computing infrastructure."
  • EOSDIS Data in the Cloud: User Requirements — "A primary objective of hosting EOSDIS data in the cloud is to 'level the playing field' so anyone can work with these Big Data collections. The ideal user experience (UX) allows data users to work next to EOSDIS data in the cloud, meaning that a user can simply point their analysis software to a data location in the cloud and begin analyzing without the need to transfer or download data. After completing their analyses, a user can view or download the results. An integral part of facilitating this is preprocessing these data into Analysis Ready Data (ARD), which enables end-users to begin working with data immediately."
  • Earthdata Developer Portal — The Earthdata Developer Portal is the central location for all publicly accessible developer documentation related to EOSDIS enterprise services and applications.
  • Energy Exascale Earth System Model — DOE's E3SM is a state-of-the-science Earth system model development and simulation project to investigate energy-relevant science using code optimized for DOE's advanced computers.
  • Energy Exascale Earth System Model source code
  • Common Infrastructure for Modeling the Earth (CIME - pronounced “SEAM”) — The Common Infrastructure for Modeling the Earth (CIME - pronounced “SEAM”) provides a Case Control System for configuring, compiling and executing Earth system models, data and stub model components, a driver and associated tools and libraries.
  • MOAB — The Mesh-Oriented datABase — "The Mesh-Oriented datABase (MOAB) is a component for representing and evaluating mesh data. MOAB can store structured and unstructured mesh, consisting of elements in the finite element 'zoo' plus polygons and polyhedra. The functional interface to MOAB is simple yet powerful, allowing the representation of many types of metadata commonly found on the mesh. MOAB is optimized for efficiency in space and time, based on access to mesh in chunks rather than through individual entities, while also versatile enough to support individual entity access. The MOAB library can naturally represent finite element and other types of mesh data [1]. Various types of meta-data are often used in conjunction with a mesh. Examples include boundary condition groupings, material types, and provenance information for the mesh. Because the data model used in MOAB is so abstract, conventions are useful for describing how meta-data is stored into that data model."
  • Parvis — Parallel Analysis Tools and New Visualization Techniques for Ultra-Large Climate Data Sets.
  • pagoda — Parallel Analysis of GeOscienceData.
  • Swift — A simple tool for fast, easy scripting on big machines.
  • PVFS: Parallel Virtual File System — PVFS (Parallel Virtual File System) serves as both a platform for I/O research, and a production file system for the cluster computing community.
  • JIGSAW(GEO) — JIGSAW(GEO) is an unstructured mesh generator for geoscientific modelling.


Learning QGIS

Learning GPlates