Online GIS Resources
Online GIS Data Sources
This is a brief list of online GIS data sources. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of available online geoscience GIS data, but rather a starting point for those learning to use GIS in the classroom. Exploring these sites will lead you to numerous other GIS data sources (use keywords from the sites to guide internet searches for other data sets of interest). Most of the data available from these sites will require GIS software, but some may provide image files of the data sets or offer data in text format that might be useable in other plotting programs (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Surfer, etc.).
- Data for free and for sale from commercial sources
- The CGIAR-CSI GeoPortal is able to provide SRTM 90m Digital Elevation Data for the entire world. It is The data holes are filled and the data is tiled. The search page allows users to grap information for particular spots on the globe for download.
- Data from ESRI ( This site may be offline. )
- Examples of state agency GIS data clearinghouses - many states have similar sites
- MN DNR Data deli (more info)
- MN Geographic Data Clearinghouse (more info)
- USDA 1m color airphotos of MN (more info)
- NY GIS clearinghouse ( This site may be offline. )
- NY State Museum GIS Data (more info)
- Examples of federal agency GIS data sources
- Seamless elevation, land use, transportation data and other coverages from the USGS
- USGS Generalized geologic map of the United States (more info) - polygon files in different ESRI formats and PDF copy of final mal
- NOAA Coastal Services Center
- NOAA NGDC Global 2' elevation/bathymetry (more info)
- NASA Landsat data (more info)
- USDA soils data
- Examples of GIS data from research projects
Online GIS Tools
This is a brief list of online GIS tools and sources of GIS software. These include online mapping utilities, GIS software/shareware, and GPS-PC interface software utilities. As with the online GIS data source list this is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a starting point to get an idea of what is available. No endorsements of commercial vendors are intended.
- Commercial vendors
- ESRI: makers of ArcInfo and ArcInfo
- Garmin: makers of consumer GPS units and Mapsource software for simple mapping tasks and GPS data downloads
- DeLorme: software for simple mapping tasks and GPS data downloads (not available for all GPS models)
- Nova Spatial: makers of pcMapper for Android(TM) devices (more info)
- GRASS GIS shareware package (runs under Linux, Unix, MacOSX, or Cygwin for Windows) (more info)
- MN DNR shareware extensions for ArcView (more info)
- MN DNR shareware extension for Garmin GPS downloads. (more info) Works as ArcView extension or stand-alone Windows application.
Online/Desktop Mapping Utilities
When GIS training and/or software is unavailable there are still opportunities to develop customized maps of lab and exercise sites. The sophistication of these online utilities range from popular mapping sites to simplfied online GIS systems. This brief list is not meant to be comprehensive, but a starting point for further investigation.
- NASA World Wind (more info) - downloadable desktop program for Windows that accesses worldwide elevation (SRTM), Landsat, and other data sets. A nice bridge between simple online GIS and desktop GIS. Beautiful imagery, but occasional server congestion problems with data downloads.
- My World GIS (more info) - simplified desktop GIS software. Available as a demo program or for purchase.
- Airphotos and digitized quad maps from USGS and Microsoft - Terraserver
- Data Visualization Links - collection of sites to obtain imagery and other data.
- Current and recent wildfilre information (more info) - from U.S.G.S. and National Forest Service
- The National Atlas from the USGS This site operates as a simplified GIS system allowing the user to turn different layers on and off to create customized maps.
- USGS earthquake mapping utility - Map recent or historical earthquake activity around the world.
- GTOPO global 30" DEM data site (more info) - Generate downloadable images of global topography.
- Mapquest - Online mapping utility
- Yahoo maps - Online mapping utility
- Google maps - Online mapping utility