Useful GIS/RS Datasources

Following are useful datasources for GIS/RS:

Datasources for Pakistan:

  1. Download Free Pakistan ArcGIS Shapefile Map Layers (Roads and Rail)
  2. Pakistan GIS: National & Provincial Boundaries of Pakistan

Datasources for Countries:

  1. Download by country | Global Administrative Areas
  2. Global Administrative Areas | Boundaries without limits
  3. China Global Investment Tracker Interactive Map

DEM Datasources:

  1. DEM Tutorial – A basic guide for using Digital Elevation Models with Terragen
  2. Data Basin | Datasets | 30 arc-second DEM of Asia
  4. LiDAR topography data from Open Topography


  1. Landsat dataset

Terrain Mapping Journal for the Earth and Beyond:

  1. Free Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and Free Satellite Imagery Download Links

OSGeo – Public Geospatial Data Committee:

  1. Geodata

Natural Earth:

  1. Cultural, Physical, and Raster dataset


  1. USGS/EROS Guides/dem
  2. USGS/EROS Find Data/Products and Data Available/DEMs
  3. USGS/EROS Find Data
  4. EarthExplorer
  5. Cumulus Portal for Geospatial Data

UNEP-WCMC – UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre:

  1. Datasets, Tools & Reports


  1. NASA astergdem tutorial
  2. NASA – NASA, Japan Release Most Complete Topographic Map of Earth

CGIAR – Consortium for Spatial Information:

  1. Soil Data
  2. World Elevation Data
  3. Climate Data

Google Earth Hacked Locations:

  1. Google Earth Hacks – Censored Locations
  2. Google Earth Hacks – World Nuclear Power Plants (updated 11.06.2006)
  3. Google Earth Hacks – World weather
  4. Google Earth Hacks – RealTime Disasters and Emergency Monitor
  5. Google Earth Hacks – Most dangerous road in the world
  6. Google Earth Hacks – CERN – with overlays


  1. ESRI_StreetMap_World_2D (MapServer)
  2. World_Topo_Map (MapServer)
  3. World_Terrain_Base (MapServer)
  4. Elevation/ESRI_Elevation_World (GlobeServer)
  5. Elevation/USGS_Elevation_US (GlobeServer)

Other Datasources:

  2. OpenGeoData – Home
  3. Spatial Data on the web, worldwide: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lab at MIT
  4. GLCF: Data & Products
  5. Free GIS Datasets
  6. Birds Occurrence Map

Tracking CO2 Emission using RS

CO2 emission can be measured using LIDAR. Following are the details of projects and datasets for CO2 Emission:

  1. The Vulcan Project: The Vulcan Project is a NASA/DOE funded effort under the North American Carbon Program (NACP) to quantify North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at space and time scales much finer than has been achieved in the past.You can use Vulcan Project’s Google Earth Application for CO2 Emission from Fossil Fuel 2002. It requires Google Earth Plugin.

  3. Experimental Advanced Airborne Lidar (EAARL) and Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS) Software: The Experimental Advanced Airborne Lidar (EAARL) system used in this data acquisition effort is uniquely suited to capturing sub-aerial and submerged topography in the same overflight. The voluminous data sets acquired from the EAARL surveys are processed using a Linux-based, custom-built system, Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS), developed in a NASA-USGS collaboration. This processing system enables the systematic creation of highly detailed submarine and sub-aerial topographic maps for use in ecological models and environmental stewardship. You can use also USGS- NPS-NASA EAARL Data.

  5. ESA A-SCOPE Project – Advanced Space Carbon and climate Observation of Planet Earth: ESA campaign has demonstrated how a technique using lasers could be employed to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The campaign supports one of the main objectives of the candidate Earth Explorer A-SCOPE mission.

Contour Plot using Matlab

You can plot contour map in Matlab. All you need is following:

  1. Download the zipped file of contourmatlab that contains m files, xls file of sample data and world mat file. The file is distributed under GNU/GPL v2.0 license.
  2. Extract the zipped file of contourmatlab to required directory.
  3. Open matlab and set your current directory of matlab to the extracted folder.
  4. Change the data in data.xls file to your own data. Remember that first column is latitude, second is longitude, both in decimals. While third column is value which you want to plot in contour. Same Latitude and Longitude should not repeat in rows.  For good contour plot, given data should be well distributed.
  5. In matlab command line, type:  plotcont
  6. Your contour will be plotted.
  7. To change the region of your plot or spacing of the plot data, you must edit plotcont.m file.

    Figure of Contour Plot on Pakistan Map.
    Fig1. Contour Plot on Pakistan Map.

You can use this file to plot the elevation contour of given region. All you need is to take latitude, longitude and elevation data for the required region. You can use google earth for this or if only elevation data is required then use online elevation profile.

Extract Street Data using Open Street Map

Method 1. Opensource:

  1. Extract street data in OSM format from OpenStreetMaps. For online data extraction, you need to login on OpenStreetMap. For offline data extract, use Merkaartor.

Method 2. Use Bing Maps or Google Map or Google Earth:

  1. Plot line over your required road. Also Plot Polygon of required building.
  2. Save it as KML file
  3. Convert it into shape file using online kml2shp converter.
  4. Import that shape file in ArcMap.

Create Elevation Profile and x-section from Given Latitude and Longidue using Online Tools

  1. Draw path/line on Google Earth, Google Maps or OpenStreet Maps.
  2. Save it as KML file
  3. Find the Altitude data for given latidute and logitude set.
  4. Plot Profile from online tool at gpsvisualizer website.
  5. If the line is perpendicular to main Profile line of road, it will be x-section of Natural Surface level.

Contour Map from DEM file

Prerequisite Software: ArcGIS 9.3

  1. Download the required DEM file from DEM Datasources. One of the datasource for DEM files is databasin. For following example, I downloaded Asia DEM file.
  2. Extract Portion of DEM Geoprocessing in ArcMap.
    1. Open new empty map in ArcMap.
    2. Drag and drop your DEM file from ArcCatalog to ArcMap. In my case, the dem file is 000asia_dem.
    3. Open ArcToolbox from icon on Standard Toolbar in ArcMap or from Windows>ArcToolbox.
    4. In ArcToolbox, click Spatial Analysis Tool > Extraction > Extract by Rectangle. In my case, I have entered following coordinates:
      • left = 70.59
      • right = 73.064
      • top = 34.849
      • bottom = 32.525
    5. Select aisa_dem in inputraster dropdown box.
    6. Browse to your given folder in output raster box and press ok. Also enter the name of the file to save. In my case it is surveydata.
    7. Extracted DEM will be created as new layer.

  3. Create Contour from DEM file.
    1. Open new empty map in ArcMap.
    2. Drag and drop the extracted DEM file from ArcCatalog to ArcMap. If it ask to create pyramids for dem file, press yes.
    3. Open Spatial Analyst Toolbox from right click on empty space of Standard Toolbar or goto view > Toolbars>Spatial Analyst.
    4. Goto Spatial Analyst > Surface Analysis > Contour
    5. Select in input box the given DEM layer.
    6. Set the Contour Intervals or keep the default values.
    7. Select the Output folder for Feature and give name to the shape file. In my case the name is surveycontour.shp. Press ok.
    8. A contour file will be created as new layer.

You can check the dem2contour poster for demo.

Download Beginner’s Lectures on GIS/RS

Introductory Course on GIS/RS Spring 2011

Course Outline for Theory Course
Course Outline for Lab Course
Lecture 01: Introduction to GIS
Lecture 02: Data Model
Lecture 03: Coordinates

Lecture 04: Georeferencing and Geocoding
Lecture 04b: Latitude, Longitude and Projection
Lecture 05: Datasource
Lecture 06: Query and Analysis
Lecture 07: GPS and it’s Error
Lecture 08: Geocomputation
Lecture 09: Remote Sensing
Lecture 10: Photogrammetry Survey
Lecture 11: Image Processing