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by Robert Waterman


Welcome to the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World


Every day we take in visual cues and make observations of the world around us. In many cases, we take the things we see to be self-evident, that they simply are as we perceive them to be. Other times, we more closely analyze and interrogate things that appear less familiar. Sometimes, just changing our visual perspective can offer additional illumination and enlightenment.


Taking a step closer to understanding our Earth, through a wide range of visual and analytical perspectives, Esri is releasing Sentinel-2 Image Services to all Esri users. Those responsible for crop management, understanding land cover change, energy exploration, natural disaster planning and mitigation, and many more, now have a powerful new ally.


Sentinel-2 is now part of the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is the foremost collection of geographic information from around the globe. Esri’s beta Sentinel-2 image service, powered by ArcGIS Image Server, includes daily updates, all Sentinel-2 imagery going back 14-months, and includes 13 bands of information. Image analysis can be applied to create image indices that show properties such as vegetation health or soil moisture as well as quantifying changes over time.


Some intriguing examples and use cases


Sentinel-2 derived crop health and water content to monitor and manage our world’s agriculture.


This example shows agricultural fields in various Sentinel-2 band combinations: Natural Color (left) displays the optical wavelengths our eyes naturally detect, Short Wave Infrared Vegetation (Middle) showing the most vigorous vegetation in bright green, and a Water Moisture Index (Right) with the highest moisture levels shown in blue.


Heat signatures used to identify burning oil and natural gas wells and manage carbon emissions.


This example shows oil/natural gas wells in the Middle East: Natural Color (left) showing the optical wavelengths our eyes naturally detect and Short-Wave Infrared (right) which allows you to quickly detect several burning wells that are not readily detectable in the Natural Color image.


Heat signatures, and visibility through smoke, used to help manage wildfires.


This example shows a recent Oklahoma wildfire in various Sentinel-2 band combinations: Natural Color (left) showing the optical wavelengths our eyes naturally detect, Short-Wave Infrared with Near Infrared wavelengths showing actual fire hotspots and highlighting burned areas, and a wider range of Short-Wave Infrared wavelengths (right) showing more refined hotspot detection.


Sentinel-2 can help us see all of this, and much more! Come and explore this fantastic resource with Esri and unlock more of Earth’s secrets. In the Living Atlas you will find the Sentinel-2 Views for full visualization and analysis, as well as a sample app providing a subset of these services in the Sentinel Explorer App. Also, check out additional ready to use layers in the ArcGIS Sentinel Imagery group.

If you would like to know more about Sentinel-2 and Esri’s image service, additional information and links are provided below.


More about Sentinel-2

Sentinel-2 is part of Copernicus, the world’s largest single Earth observation program directed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It provides multi-spectral data spanning 13 bands in the visible, near infrared, and short-wave infrared, with spatial resolution ranging from 10 meters to 60 meters. Sentinel-2 is continually collecting imagery from two Earth observation satellites that provide imagery for any land-based location in the world every 5-7 days.


Extending Esri’s Sentinel-2 image service

For users wishing to do more extensive predictive analysis, generate persisted products or access the entire archive, ArcGIS Image Server with the raster analysis capabilities can be set up on scalable Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud infrastructure to apply a wide range of predefined or custom analysis against Sentinel 2 and a wide range of other sources. The Esri beta Sentinel-2 image service sources imagery from the Registry of Open Data on AWSand uses AWS server infrastructure in the Frankfurt region.


Current events and additional use cases

Using Esri’s Sentinel-2 image service can provide better visualization and understanding of catastrophic events such as Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. The ability to use imagery of the volcano along with other spatial data, such as digital elevation models (DEM), provides an unprecedented opportunity to help predict lava flow direction and provide advanced notice to those who may be in danger.

Sentinel-2 service can also help provide understanding of the conditions that lead to fires such as this past winter’s Thomas Fire, which is California’s largest wildfire on record. The Thomas Fire burned over 280,000 acres and triggered massive mudslides. Visualizing factors, such as periods of increased moisture contributing to more lush vegetation followed by hot and dry weather, can help predict future wildfires and mitigate their effects in the future.

by Shane Matthews


Through the Community Program organizations contribute their local geographic content which is published and freely-hosted by Esri. Everything from basemap layers such as parks and trees, to imagery and stream gauge data can be contributed.


Latest Release

This month 18 communities have shared map layers in support of Esri’s expanding suite of high-performance basemaps and imagery services. Map layers include aerial photography, boundaries, buildings, owner parcels, parks, points of interest, trees, and similar large-scale features that enhance our products and information sets for the world to use.

Detailed large-scale basemap layers and high-resolution imagery shared to the Living Atlas are what sets ArcGIS Online Basemaps apart from other mapping APIs. The Story Maps below include examples of these map layers and stunning imagery from our latest release.


Basemap Updates May 2018

Imagery Updates May 2018


Upgrades to Contributor App

The Community Maps Program is going through many enhancements, including updates to the Community Maps Contributor App, The new version of the app offers an improved user experience, a new option for sharing map data, and better ways for our contributors to manage their accounts and the content they share. Have a look at these short segment videos for the details.


Become part of the GIS of the World

The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is a collaborative effort between users, partners, and Esri. Whether it’s contributing data or nominating your maps and apps, there is a way for you to get involved. Click the image below for details on how to get started.


Become part of the GIS of the World


Living Atlas Gems

Stay in touch! A great way to keep up to date on Living Atlas enhancements, new content and success stories is to subscribe to ArcGIS Living Atlas Gems. Click the image below to read the latest issue!


ArcGIS Living Atlas Gems

by Michael Dangermond


Earlier this week I showed how we can use the Trace Downstream service in ArcGIS online to predict where lava will flow. The night after the blog was posted, some lava flowed from some of fissures in the Eastern Rift Zone downward toward the sea. The path taken by the lava flow followed the line ArcGIS had traced downstream from the fissure.



As of Friday afternoon Pacific Time, Open Street Map shows the lava flow has been following the course the new 10m trace downstream service had predicted. The flow has mostly stopped, but if it starts again and continues to the sea, it will overrun Ahalanui Park. The County of Hawaii advises us that both Isaac Hale and Ahalanui Park are closed until further notice.

Clearly see the details in your landscapes


Find out how to get the most accurate global elevation data for your visualization and analysis. Airbus’ WorldDEM4Ortho is now part of ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. Anyone with an ArcGIS subscription can use it.

In this webinar you will learn more about WorldDEM4Ortho—how it was created and why it’s so accurate. You will see how to access and use the Living Atlas global elevation services that contain WorldDEM4Ortho.

Esri’s World Elevation services and information products are enhanced with WorldDEM4Ortho. The key benefits of WorldDEM4Ortho are:

  • Most consistent and accurate satellite-based elevation model on a global scale.
  • Vertical accuracy of ~ 4 meters.
  • Pole-to-pole coverage at ~ 24 meters cell size.
  • Flattened urban areas.


Registration is required-

by Michael Dangermond


After learning about the new 10m resolution hydrology analysis service for Hawaii, I decided to take the new service for a test-drive. As of May 14, 18 fissures have opened in Puna District, Hawaii Island, spewing magma and gas. What I really want to know is, which way will the lava coming from these fissures flow? Do these flows have the potential to cut off access to the easternmost part of the island?

First I saw that someone has been adding the fissure locations to Open Street Map in almost real-time. So I added these points to ArcGIS Desktop. (When we zoom out, the fissure locations appear to move, but my fissure location points were digitized at a finer scale of 1:1000.)

Next I added the server to my catalog pane and used the trace downstream tool to find the lava’s path to the sea. (The trace downstream tool consumes credits.)

My analysis found that the lava will be heading from the fissures in three directions: North, East, and Southeast. And it has the potential to cut off a whole portion of Puna District!

Next I wanted to find out how many people live in this area of Puna. So I drew the area and ran the enrich layer tool.

From my estimate, 1130 residents of East Puna would need to be evacuated from the area if it were cut off. There are 765 total housing units in this area. 162 are occupied by renters and 226 are considered vacant, so there may be a few hundred more tourists that need to be evacuated as well. Good thing the lava moves slowly and Hawaii Civil Defense has helicopters ready to go.

by Daniel Siegel


One of the core layers the Living Atlas of the World provides is a digital elevation model (DEM) of the planet. These data are shared as cached basemaps and as an image service, as well through a suite of analysis tools you can use directly against the hosted data. The Hydrology Analysis Tools – Delineate Watershed and Trace Downstream – use elevation to help you understand hydrologic connectivity across the landscape. These are foundational services with applications in natural resource management, ecology, public health, and disaster response. For example, when a waterborne contaminant is found at a particular location, you can use these tools to narrow down the upstream area it could have come from, and chart where it will flow next. Users can perform these analytical tasks quickly and easily without having to collect, maintain, or update terabytes of base data on local machines. The data is already preprocessed, optimized for fast web service performance, and is readily accessible across the ArcGIS platform.

Hydrology Tools Coverage

Coverage of Hydrology Analysis Tools

Globally this analysis is based on the 90-meter resolution HydroSHEDs DEM, and in the United States the tools also take advantage of the 30-meter resolution National Hydrography Dataset. However, some islands remain too small to represent with these datasets, even making use of the increased resolution of the NHD. Now that the USGS has begun releasing 10-meter resolution, hydrologically-enforced DEMs for the United States, we can finally add support in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the first 10-meter resolution data to be incorporated into our Hydrology Services.

How to use them

These tools can be used by any application in the ArcGIS platform. If you are developing an application of your own, you can use the REST API to incorporate them into your project as well.

In ArcGIS Online, just press the ‘Perform Analysis” button and click “Find Locations.” The tool lets you input a set of points, or you can just click on the map on your point of interest.

Ready-to-Use ServicesIn ArcGIS Pro, these analysis services are accessible as Ready-To-Use Services in the Analysis ribbon. Ready-To-Use Services give direct access to ArcGIS Online analysis services such as Network Analysis Services as well as elevation and hydrology services. Access them by logging in to any ArcGIS Online organizational account. These tools can be used directly in ModelBuilder models and Python scripts just like any other geoprocessing tool.

In ArcMap, you can find them at the bottom of the Catalog window. Expand Ready-To-Use Services, click the Elevation connection, and then the Tools folder, and Elevation toolbox. A pop-window will prompt you to log in.

How much they cost

These services require that you have an ArcGIS Online account with credits available to you. For every thousand features you input to the tool, one credit will be deducted from your account.

by Shane Matthews


There is new and updated content for 22 communities. This release includes several states, counties, cities, conservation areas, and facility sites throughout Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, as seen in this Story Map.

Follow us on Twitter: @LivingAtlas

How do I Use? Combine content from the Living Atlas with your own data. Create powerful new maps and applications!

How do I contribute? Join the growing community of Living Atlas of the World contributors. There are two ways to contribute!

Living Atlas Newsletter: This newsletter will keep you and other members of the Living Atlas user community informed through success stories, examples of applied use, visibility of new content, announcements about events, and other useful resources and information. Subscribe to the Esri News for the Living Atlas Community. You can have the newsletter sent right to your inbox by subscribing here.

If you have other feedback or comments, please post them to the Living Atlas Discussion Group on GeoNet.

If you have previously used any basemap service, you may need to clear your cache in order to see the updates.

by Bern Szukalski


The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is one of the places you can search for content when you want to create a map. For example, when you search for and add content using the Map Viewer, the Living Atlas is one of the places you can search.

But another place you can start authoring your map is at the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website. By starting at the Living Atlas website, you have access to full browse and advanced search capabilities against Living Atlas content. You can also favorite Living Atlas content for easy access in the Map Viewer. Here’s how to leverage the website for your map authoring needs.


Start your map at the the Living Atlas website

Step 1. Go to the Living Atlas website and sign in.


Step 2. Click the Browse tab.


Step 3. Use the browse tools to find what you want.

There are lots of search options you can use to zero-in on content you’re interested in. For example, you can enter a keyword in Search. Click Search examples to get some hints, or just enter any search string.

You can also choose from Living Atlas topics. Click to open and choose subtopics you are interested in.

And you can search for specific content types, like maps or layers, choose a specific region, and more.

Use the various tools noted above, when finished browsing, peruse your results.


Step 4. Learn more about your results.

Click the thumbnail, or title, to open the item details for your search results. The item details provide additional information about your results that help you decide what to use.


Step 3. Make a map using your results.

Click the context menu (3 dots alongside your results).

Then choose the application to open, in this case we chose Map Viewer. You can also open the item in the Scene Viewer, or ArcGIS Desktop.

Once the Map Viewer opens, your Living Atlas layer will appear, and you can continue authoring your maps using the Map Viewer.


Using Favorites

You can also favorite items you find at the Living Atlas website. Click the star to favorite any of your search results.

Favorites appear under Content

And can also be used in the Map Viewer. Click Search for layers, then select My Favorites.


Summary and more information

Starting your search at the Living Atlas website, or using the website to choose Favorites, is an easy way to start authoring your map. For more information see:

by Robert Waterman


Released on  April 18, 2018

This release of Landsat Image Services includes some noteworthy updates…


  • Revised scaling.  The Top of Atmosphere (TOA) reflectance values (which range from 0 – 1 by default) will now be scaled using a range of 0 – 10,000.   These values were previously scaled to 5,000 – 55,000. Some important user considerations…
    • This change will primarily affect image computation and analytics, where numerical and visual results may vary.
    • This change does not impact the visualization of band combinations and indices provided by Esri and does not impact user-defined raster functions which do not involve image computation.
    • The scale range will now be equivalent to other TOA reflectance products, including those provided by the USGS.
    • This change simplifies the computation of indices such as NDVI.
    • Users should account for the revised scaling accordingly.
  • Daily updates. The service will now be updated daily. Minimizing the time between data capture and data availability is important for users who rely on the most recent data.
  • New QA band. The service will now include a QA band as band 9. This layer is provided with the Collection 1 data for assessing general quality conditions within an image.  For more information, please reference  Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 Quality Assessment.
  • New field. Our Landsat Image Services will continue to provide both Pre-Collection and Collection 1 data.  A new field called Landsat_product_id has been added to distinguish between the two. For more on these collections, see Landsat Collections.
  • WCS and WMS compatibility. The Landsat Image Services will now include the ability to be consumed as WCS or WMS services.


Affected Apps and Services
Due to the change in output range of pixel values, the image services update will affect users who use the services for processing and analytics. The following apps, services, and tools will be affected.




by Bern Szukalski


Some layers in your web map may be dynamic, meaning they are being updated at regular intervals. For example, a GeoRSS feed, earth observations from the Living Atlas, or a feature service being updated by workers performing edits while in the field.

When the map containing these layers is redrawn, these data refresh. By setting the refresh interval property on these layers, you can force an automatic refresh at a specific time interval. These refreshes occur even while the map is open and idle, and will synchronize the map anywhere it is accessed – via browsers, desktops, and devices.


Example: USA Weather Warnings and Watches

USA Weather Warnings and Watches is one of the curated earth observation layers available in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. To add the layer to your map, click Add then choose Browse Living Atlas Layers.

Searching for “weather” we can find the USA Weather Warnings and Watches live feed from the Living Atlas, and add it to our map as a layer. Click (+) to add it to your map.

Viewing the item details we learn that the service is checked for updates every 5 minutes. To view the details, click the title (or thumbnail if in List view). Scrolling through the item details, we learn the service is updated every five minutes.

To set the layer refresh to match the update interval, open the layer options, choose Refresh Interval, and set it to 5 minutes.

The interval must be expressed in minutes, but can be in the range 0.1 (6 seconds) to 1440 (1 day). This ensures that even when the map is not being actively used, the layer will refresh to show the latest updated information.

The layer properties are saved with the map, and the layer will automatically refresh at the specified interval when viewed, even if the map is left idle.

View a sample web map using refresh intervals. The web map has two layers (USGS earthquakes past hour and past day) that update every 5 minutes. Update intervals can be different from layer to layer.


More information

For more information see:


This post was originally published on September 25, 2013, and has been updated.

by Shane Matthews


Community Maps contributors have made it clear, and we’ve noticed. Colleges and universities all over the world want their campus on the map. There has been a rather impressive increase in the number of campuses that want to share their content with Esri’s Living Atlas of the World.


Just click on these interactive maps to view a few of the campuses we have helped complete maps for.



Sure, there are many campuses that maintain campus maps already. The Living Atlas team at Esri would like to offer an additional resource. What’s the benefit? Maybe you should ask yourself, how will your campus benefit by not participating and sharing your map content.

We’d like to help your campus get on the map. Here’s what you get and how to do it.

Make Your Campus Map Widely Accessible

Faculty, students, and facility managers will all have access to the same online basemaps, derived from and maintained with the authoritative content provided by the educational institution’s data stewards.

The online basemaps can then be used to manage your facilities, highlight student life, activities and events.

Like this Building Energy Explorer App. It Calculates and compares the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) for UMass buildings and associates this data with a map to visualize and analyze energy consumption across the campus.

Assemble all your campus apps by creating a map gallery on ArcGIS Online, it makes it easy for students, faculty, and staff to find information they need.

Ensure featured content about your campus is easily discoverable. Create a Living Atlas of your campus!

Why Esri’s Community Maps Program?

When you participate in Community Maps, your campus data will be integrated into a suite of ready-to-use online basemaps.

You also get…

  • Access to your map 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Your content hosted, published, and maintained by Esri, ensuring high performance
  • The ability to combine your campus map service and other operational data in web applications

Contributing your campus data, whether it includes building footprints, sidewalks, or vegetation data, provides your internal users and the public with access to a unified, cartographically well-designed campus map. The campus map can be accessed through a standard Internet browser, ArcGIS® for Desktop, ArcGIS® Pro, ArcGIS for Smartphones and Tablets, or custom applications.

Getting Started

Participation in the program is free, and a wealth of resources is available to you. Just email Shane Matthews (, I can help you out! Or register for Community Maps here, and we’ll contact you with the next steps.

This Story Map illustrates the building blocks of large-scale content, features select contributing campuses, and provides examples of applied use.

The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World has been updated to use new categories for item organization. The categories more closely reflect conventional topics and industries. The categories and subcategories have been consolidated into logical groupings making item discovery more intuitive. Items will be included in only one, and at most two, categories. The new categories will also allow faster Living Atlas contribution.

Living Atlas website categories

While a few new categories have been added, many remain the same or have become subcategories. A Trending category has been added where content that is new and noteworthy or related to current events will be featured. Content in this category will be updated frequently. The most notable updates to the Basemaps category is the addition of the Creative Maps subcategory and the Vector Tiles subcategory. This means users can more readily take advantage of the benefits these maps offer.

Living Atlas Trending
Living Atlas Basemaps

The categories have been updated on both the Living Atlas website and in ArcGIS Online. The updated categories can be seen on the Browse page of the website. For the nomination process, this means contributors will no longer have to add Living Atlas specific tags to their items. However, the recommendation is to still include at least three tags when nominating items for the Living Atlas. To learn more about the criteria for Living Atlas item contribution, please read “A Simple Checklist for Nominating Your Maps and Apps into the Living Atlas”. To prepare and nominate items to the Living Atlas sign in to the My Contributions page of the Living Atlas website using your ArcGIS Online credentials. For more information regarding the category updates in ArcGIS Online, please read “What’s New in ArcGIS Online (April 2018)“.

by Lucy Guerra


Demographic content has been updated for 50 countries in the first release of the year.

First, the Advanced dataset for Japan, from Esri Japan, has been updated to incorporate the latest Census release from 2015. In addition, many popular data variables have been updated by Esri Japan using a variety of public sources. The data are available for the following geography levels: prefectures, municipalities, and blocks. More information about this release can be found in the methodology.

In addition, the Advanced dataset for Germany, from Nexiga, which was updated to 2017 last December, now includes four (4) additional data variables: Total Male Population, Total Female Population, Total Births, and Total Deceased. Read the Release Notes for more information.

And lastly, the Standard datasets for 48 countries have been updated to reflect the latest estimates from Michael Bauer Research (MB Research). Not only does the release make available the last group of countries in the 2016 demographic update, but it also makes available the 2017 demographic variables for many European countries. Read about these updates in the Release Notes for each country.

*Both Standard and Advanced datasets were updated for these countries.


How will these updates affect me?

For the Ready-to-Use Living Atlas Maps User within ArcGIS Online
Demographic layers and maps for 50 countries are updated.

For the Business Analyst and Community Analyst User
Business Analyst and Community Analyst users can access the updated data through reports, infographics, and maps. The complete attribute list for each country is accessible through the data browser contained in the application.

For the Data Enrichment user in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Maps for Office
The April 2018 update provides access to the datasets shown above. For a detailed explanation of new or deleted attributes in datasets, see the Release Notes for each individual country available on the Esri Demographics documentation pages.

For the Developer using REST endpoints for Standard Global Demographics & Lifestyle Map Services
The REST endpoints for Standard Global Demographics & Lifestyle Map Services were updated in April 2018. These changes will impact any application consuming these services. Some of the changes to the underlying REST endpoints included in this release are:

  1. Changes to the layer IDs.
  2. Changes to layer names.
  3. Changes to attribute field names, IDs, and aliases including additions and deletions.

Because of updates to the underlying data, users of the Demographics & Lifestyle Map Services may need to update these items in the query parameters of REST requests to the service from their apps. To view the updated map service REST endpoints, you will need to access the REST API with a developer or organizational account, using a token request.

For the Developer using the REST endpoints of the GeoEnrichment Service
The underlying datasets of the REST endpoints of the GeoEnrichment Service were updated in April 2018. Some of the changes to the REST endpoints included in this release are:

  1. Changes to the layer IDs of the administrative/statistical boundaries.
  2. Changes to the layer names of the administrative/statistical boundaries.
  3. Changes to attributes/analysis variables including additions and deletions.

Because of updates to the underlying data, users of the GeoEnrichment Service may need to update these items in the query parameters of REST requests to the service from their apps. To view the updated REST endpoints, you will need to access the GeoEnrichment Service with a developer or organizational account, using a token request.

by Daniel Siegel


Just because you can’t see evapotranspiration doesn’t mean you can’t map it. In fact, the Living Atlas of the World has long contained data about average annual evapotranspiration for the United States. Today that map is being deprecated and replaced by two global versions that show evaporative losses everywhere on Earth.

Evapotranpsiration is the measure of evaporative losses from the landscape. It includes both direct evaporation from lakes and soil, and transpiration, which is when plants take water up through their roots and release it from their leaves. Over 61% of rainfall is lost to evapotranspiration, so mapping its variance is an important part of understanding the global water cycle.

Actual ET vs Potential ETActual ET vs Potential ET in Africa

Potential evapotranspiration is the amount of evapotranspiration that would occur if water availability were unlimited. It is a meteorological variable that depends only on air temperature and solar radiation. So, for example, Scotland and Norway have a lower rate of evapotranspiration than the Congo, despite receiving just as much rain, because potential evapotranspiration is lower. There is not enough solar energy to vaporize all the water. Conversely, the Sahara Desert has a very high potential evapotranspiration, but receives little rain, so actual evapotranspiration is low and the unused solar energy heats the sand to over 170 degrees Fahrenheit. In the Congo River Basin, there is high potential evapotranspiration and ample precipitation, so less of the potential goes unused. The result is high actual evapotranspiration and a much more humid climate with abundant plant life.

These layers were built using the MOD16 Global Evapotranspiration Product, which is derived from satellite imagery by researchers at the University of Montana. Imagery is from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument with 1-km resolution first launched in 1999 and carried by two NASA satellites. The MOD16 algorithmderives from raw imagery a number of secondary data products like land surface albedo, leaf area index, and net solar radiation. These intermediate data are used to solve the Penman-Monteith equation for total daily evapotranspiration, which is then aggregated into 8-day, monthly, and annual intervals. We calculated the average annual evapotranspiration over the 15 year period of record (2000 – 2014), both in terms of actual and potential ET, in order to build the layers above. If you want to access the monthly data, a toolbox you can use is available here.

ET with hillshade
ET with hillshade

What can you do with this data?

These layers are image services, so they can be used as input by your geoprocessing tools in Desktop. The “Zonal Statistics as Table” tool is particularly useful for calculating evaporative losses over a watershed, which is the first step towards calculating the water balance. If you subtract annual evapotranspiration from the annual rainfall you have a good estimate of available water, the sustainable supply of a watershed that must be split between human use, freshwater ecosystems, and groundwater recharge. For visualization purposes there is also a cached version of this map that has a hillshade burned in. When combined with the Hydro Reference Overlay it can be used to create a particularly beautiful basemap.

by Charlie Frye


We are pleased to announce the availability of an update to the World Population Estimate layers.

This update was produced during 2017, using the most current data sources for population and land cover. The significant improvements are highlighted below, and for more detailed information see the 2016 Methodology White Paper:

  • A confidence score (1 = most, to 5 = least) surface is now available. This score accounts for the reliability, age, and method of the population estimates, the impact of raster resampling during the modeling process, and the ratio of the population to the size of reporting units. See World Population Estimate Confidence 2016

Within Europe and North Africa, confidence in population estimate varies tremendously. This is based on age of census or estimate, size of available enumeration units, the quality of the census, etc.


  • The geoprocessing model used to create the surfaces was restructured to eliminate statistical artifacts which affected the model’s ability to determine an appropriate threshold for human settlement, especially in coastal areas. To improve upon this previous version we switched to a Top of Atmosphere (TOA) corrected Landsat8 panchromatic dataset. TOA effectively normalizes statistics between scenes.

We are also pleased to include that Esri participates in the POPGRID Data Collaborative, which is a consortium of those who produce global and national gridded population estimates and redistributions. POPGRID seeks to facilitate collaboration among data producers and inform users about the differences in purpose and utility of existing gridded population datasets.

The 2016 World Population Estimate layers are found in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.

Supporting Content:

  1. 2016 Methodology White Paper that provides detailed documentation describing the nature of the WPE, how it is produced, and recommendations for successful use.
  2. World Population Estimate 2016 Sources Web Map
This example shows the kind of information available for every country.
  1. We are Everywhere story map that introduces the WPE and possibilities for gridded population data.

by Rajinder Nagi


Elevation surface provides foundational layer for your work in 3D. ArcGIS 3D clients such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online Web Scene Viewer, and ArcGIS Earth comes with a default elevation layer – Terrain 3D.  Along with this default elevation layer, ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World also provides TopoBathy 3D, which combines topography (land elevation) and bathymetry (water depths) into one seamless layer. Terrain 3D and TopoBathy 3D are tiled elevation services that uses the LERC (Limited Error Raster Compression) tile format and are derived from World Elevation Terrain and TopoBathy respectively.

A few weeks ago World Elevation layers (Terrain & TopoBathy) and Tools were enhanced with Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho. These updates are now rolled out to 3D elevation layers (Terrain 3Dand TopoBathy 3D). Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho is a global dataset covering the entire earth’s land surface (excluding the countries of Azerbaijan, DR Congo and Ukraine), which has a resolution of 0.8 arc second (approx. 24 meters). It brings many quality improvements especially over urban areas in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, which were previously using SRTM 30 m dataset.

SRTM is a digital surface model (DSM), which represents elevation values of the natural and built features on the earth surface such as buildings, vegetation, etc. Due to its DSM nature and coarser resolution, urban areas especially with dense and high rise buildings appear to have small hills or undulating surface. When you overlay 3D buildings/objects on this undulating surface, it seems to be either sinking or floating on the ground. In Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho, urban areas are flattened to give DTM-like product thus providing much better surface than SRTM 30 m. Let’s see a few examples showing improvements over urban areas in before and after comparisons.

Auckland, New Zealand – 3D buildings are now sitting nicely on flat ground surface (WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m) in comparison to previously undulating surface (SRTM 30 m) where buildings seem to be sinking in the ground.

Auckland 3D buildings overlaid on elevation surface

Berlin, Germany – 3D buildings are now sitting nicely on flat surface of WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m (after) in comparison to undulating surface of SRTM 30 m (before).

Berlin 3D buildings overlaid on elevation surface

Esri will keep improving the World Elevation Layers, Tools and derived information products with high resolution content from open sources and community maps for elevation program. You can look at the current data sources used by checking our Elevation Coverage Map. If your organization has better elevation content that they can contribute, then check our Community Maps for Elevation program to get in touch.

If you are interested in learning more about various elevation information products in the ArcGIS Living Atlas, then take a tour with this elevation story map.

by Caitlin Scopel


The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World contains vector and raster layers for lands managed or owned by six agencies of the federal government (US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense). Last week, these Esri owned layers were updated, including the addition of two new agencies, more accurate ownership attribution, faster drawing speeds, and access to the latest features in ArcGIS Pro.


The USA Federal Lands feature layer provides access to vector data for all six agencies. In ArcGIS Online, the feature layer can be filtered and new feature layer views of the data saved as layers:

The new USA Federal Lands feature layer is best for visualization at larger scales (> 1:2,000,000) and can be combined with an imagery layer or a tile layer in a web map to provide fast rendering across the entire range of scales.

In ArcGIS Online you can export the feature layer’s data, perform analysis, change symbology, and work with the layer’s attribute table to select features and edit data. In ArcGIS Pro you can do even more including using the layer as an analytic input to a geoprocessing tool, model, or Python script.


The USA Federal Lands imagery layers were also updated with the same data used to create the feature layers. Like the feature layer, raster functions and filters allow us to create views of subsets of the data. We created imagery layers for each of the six federal agencies in the data set:

Imagery layers are useful online to rapidly draw across the entire scale range and can be used in web maps to support the feature service at smaller scales. Imagery layers are particularly useful in ArcGIS Pro where you can use functions to extract, modify, and combine imagery layers on the fly to create landscape models that reveal patterns in the data.

These layers are part of the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, which provides an easy way to explore many other authoritative maps on hundreds of topics like this one.

by Robert Waterman


Community Maps Imagery Updates

It is looking to be a very productive year for our Community Maps Program.  Over the last two months we have updated our World Imagery basemap with high-resolution aerial imagery contributions ranging from 4 to 30cm.

A few highlights:

  • 21 US Counties

  • 9 Canadian City and/or County-wide contibutions

  • Complete State/Province-wide contributions in Spain, Switzerland, and Germany

See What’s New in Community Maps Imagery (2018) to explore a series of bookmarked locations and a full listing of 2018 Community Maps Imagery publications by month.


DigitalGlobe Imagery Updates

So far, in 2018, we have published more than 35 Million KM² of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery.  Most recently we published 1m coverage of the following:

  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
  • Yemen
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Libya
  • Western Sahara
  • Morocco
  • Mauritania
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • Mali
  • *****
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Tanzania
  • Kazakhstan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Azores
  • Cape Verde
  • Canary Islands