Collaborative Proposal: Community Facility Support for OpenTopography -- a Cyberinfrastructure Facility for Topographic Data and Services Grant


  • This Division of Earth Sciences Instrumentation and Facilities Program (EAR/IF) award to the University of California San Diego supports a one-year collaborative project with Arizona State University (EAR-1833632) and UNAVCO, Inc (EAR-1833643). The award allows for continued maintenance and operation of a web-accessible cyberinfrastructure platform, OpenTopography (OT). OT provides web-based access to airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) topography data and data products and topographic data from portable terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), radar ranging, and photogrammetry at a range of scales in support of surface Earth process research, research training and education. The availability of high resolution digital topographic data and shallow water bathymetric data has been revolutionary for Earth and environmental sciences and engineering contributing to study of Earth surface processes (e.g., earthquake and volcanic processes associated crustal deformation, landslides, riverine sediment transport), vegetation dynamics and human modification of Earth's surface. Since OT's founding in 2009, over 62,000 unique users (registered users & guests) have run over 240,000 custom point cloud and raster jobs, processing nearly 4 trillion points. Most OT data sets are high resolution (<1 m/pixel or >1 sample/sq. meter) but OT also provides access to global raster data (30-100 m/pixel). OT currently holds 256 LiDAR point cloud datasets covering ~217,000 km2. More than a trillion points are available for on-demand processing and download. The cost of data acquisition for topographic data hosted within OT data have an estimated value of $30 million. OT distributes data at various product levels at no cost to users and at least 290 peer-reviewed articles along with numerous theses and other publications have been produced using OT resources. OT draws on airborne LiDAR and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data sets from numerous sources including the EAR/IF supported National Center for Airborne Laser Swath Mapping Facility (NCALM) and the GAGE Facility hosted TLS instrument pool deployments that are funded through NSF and external research projects. Hosted data also includes airborne LiDAR data sets flown for EarthScope science projects, Critical Zone Observatories, NOAA, US Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and numerous state airborne LiDAR data sets and Space Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) global datasets. This support is congruent with NSF's mission of promoting the progress of science and may advance the national prosperity and welfare through improved public access to high resolution digital georeferenced topographic data sets with applications to geohazards assessment and mitigation including improved flood forecasting. *** This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • May 1, 2019 - April 30, 2024

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • 1833643