The NOAA Coastal Services Center is dedicated to working with state and local coastal programs to determine data needs and deliver not only the data, but also the tools and training needed to turn these data into useful information. All of this can be found on the Center's Digital Coast website.

Remote sensing technologies are usually the most cost-effective means of getting information for areas that are inaccessible, far away, difficult to traverse, require a broad view, or are too large to effectively manage or assess with traditional surveying methods.

Land Cover
Land cover maps document how much of a region is covered by forests, wetlands, impervious surfaces, agriculture, and other land and water types. By comparing land cover maps over a period of time, users can also document land use trends and changes.

Elevation Data

  • Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging)
    Lidar is a remote sensing technology used to collect topographic and bathymetric data. Through partnerships, the NOAA Coastal Services Center has gathered significant coastal coverage for the lower 48 states and Hawaii.
  • IfSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar)
    IFSAR is a remote sensing technology used to collect elevation data, employing radar energy instead of the laser used by lidar sensors. The NOAA Coastal Services Center has gathered, through partnerships, significant coastal coverage for California, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaii.

Benthic Habitat
Spatial data for intertidal or subtidal nearshore habitats and biological communities are available. The data are almost exclusively in vector format (polygon or point), primarily developed using aerial photography or multispectral imagery.

NOAA Composite Shoreline
The shoreline is distributed as a seamless line, generally depicting mean high water, with national coverage (continental U.S. and Hawaii), and was generated from a collection of NOAA shoreline manuscripts (T-sheets) and other sources representing multiple years. 

NOAA Shoreline Data
The NOAA Shoreline website is a comprehensive guide to national shoreline data and terms. The site provides information about and access to seven vector shorelines that are generated by NOAA and other federal agencies. Supporting context is available in the frequently asked questions, common uses of shoreline data, shoreline terms, and references sections.

Data Acquisition
Through established contracting vehicles with geospatial industry leaders, state and local agencies can work with Center staff members to contract for coastal data collection and other geographic information system services. Fund transfers are coordinated through an established memorandum of understanding (MOU) process. The Center does not charge overhead; therefore, 100% of state and local dollars applied to the contracts go to the service requested. For more information, e-mail the Center at