Coastal GIS Data

NOS Data Explorer offers access to many products, including bathymetry, coastal maps, environmental sensitivity index maps,aerial photographs, and more.

There are large amounts of data that pertain to our Coastal environment, including land area considered the Coastal Plain, rivers, estuaries, sounds, tidal wetlands, marshes, the ocean shorline, ocean waters, and bathymetry. Data producers and sources vary widely, but most are produced through cooperative efforts between agencies and organizations.

Besides NC State's Dept. of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, several other UNC campuses conduct extensive coastal area research or have coastal labs, and offer opportunities for collaboration. These include East Carolina University's Center for Geographic Information Science, UNC Wilmington's Geographic Information Sciences program, and UNC Marine Sciences.

NOAA Data and Maps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationis a primary federal level data producer and provider. The following are key websites and data sources for NOAA data:

  • National Ocean Service (NOS) Data Explorer
    Data Search Portal to search and download NOS data and metadata. Topics include Bathymetry/Topography, Envirnomental Monitoring, Geodetic/Global Positioning, Hurricanes, Marine Boundaries, Remotely Sensed Imagery/Photos, Shoreline, Tides/Currents.

  • Coastal Services Center (CSC)
    Works with public and private sector partners to address coastal issues.
    • Digital Coast
      Extent: US Coastal Areas.
      Geospatial data categories: Imagery, Land Cover, Elevation, Benthic Habitat, Composite Shoreline, Marine Boundaries, and Georegulations.
      Tools: Habitat Priority, Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison, Impervious Surface, CanVis Visual Simulation, Storm Mapping, Hurricane Evacuation, Historical Hurricane Tracks, Hazard Assessment, Legislative Atlas, LiDAR Data Handler, and Nautical Chart Tools - Reprojector, Handler, and Viewer.
    • Southeast & Caribbean Region
      News, Products, and Services provided by the CSC for the Southeast US Region, which includes North Carolina.
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
    Operates the three following data centers:
    • National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC)
      "... national repository and dissemination facility for global oceanographic data which acquires and preserves a historical record of the Earth's changing environment to be used for operational applications and ocean climate research."
    • National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)
      Includes Marine data. See the Libraries' Weather and Climate Data for further assistance.
    • National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)
      "... provides scientific stewardship, products, and services for geophysical data from the Sun to the Earth and Earth's sea floor and solid earth environment, including Earth observations from space. "
  • Office of Coast Survey
    Source for Nautical Charts, also known as Navigational or Navigation Charts. These maps are used for safe passage of waterborne commerce, and can also serve as base maps for resource management and shoreline planning. Charts depict the location of shoreline, minimum water depths, navigation aids and hazards. View online, or learn how to obtain printed charts. Also includes historical chart downloads.

Archived Data Collections

Over the years, NCSU Libraries has collected various data from coastal applications and data production projects. For various reasons, NCSU Libraries' is no longer collecting the data from these projects, and/or the data collections are not currently being updated by the data producers. Nonetheless, the data may be useful for historic mapping and analysis purposes, and are thus all available on the Libraries' Geodata Server for NCSU affiliate access. Any questions may be directed to Data Services.

  • NOS Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI)
    Coastal habitat data and PDF maps covering NC, SC, and GA. The ESI website is linked from the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration's website. Data available online for North Carolina are still circa 1996 (as of February 2009), which are the same as are available from the Library. However, the data are now in a geodatabase (downloaded and available from the Geodata Server) and other states have had recent ESI content updates.
  • NOAA Coastal Change and Analysis Program (C-CAP)
    Coastal land cover change data for the US coastline. The C-CAP website indicates the latest NC land cover data is from 2001 (as of February 2009). However, some other states have more recent data.
  • Ocean Planning Information System
    Over 50 ARC/INFO or Shapefile data layers for NC, SC, GA, FL coasts and offshore areas. The Ocean Planning Information System (OPIS) was an online source for data and interactive mapping in the late 1990's and early 2000. Their former link now (February 2009) redirects to the CSC's Digital Coast Legislative Atlas which "allows users to visualize where selected coastal and ocean laws apply helping regional collaborations to make sense of the complex governance system of our oceans and coasts." The Libraries' OPIS webpage will be kept online for documentation purposes, as the data are still available from the Library sources listed.
  • Protected Areas GIS
    Estuarine reserve boundaries, DRG's, DOQQ's, nautical charts. According to NOAA, the PAGIS project is no longer active. The Libraries' PAGIS webpage will be kept online for documentation purposes, as the data are still available from the Library sources listed.

NC Division of Coastal Management

The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM) has several webpages with GIS data downloads, as well as interactive mapping sites.

Data Download pages include:

  • Wetlands Data
    For more thorough information about wetlands GIS data, see the Libraries' Wetlands page.
  • Oceanfront GIS Data
    Contains current and historic data for shoreline and inlet locations, Erosion rates, Inlet Hazard Areas, Oceanfront Setback Factors, Static Vegetation and Setback Lines, Oceanfront sandbags, Oceanfront Transects, and Beach/Coastal Access sites. A February 2009 download of all the files are archived on the Geodata Server under /stategov/coastal/2009.

Interactive Mapping Sites are linked from the Maps and Spatial Data webpage, and include "Oceanfront Shorelines, Setback and Hazards," "Coastal Wetlands," "Beach and Waterfront Access," and "Oceanfront Sandbags."

Go to the GIS Data List Page