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- What's New -

Online North American Environmental Atlas Launched
An atlas that gathers and presents information designed to help us understand continental-scale environmental issues has been released by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The North American Environmental Atlas is intended for use by both environmental scientists and the citizens of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Its maps and services are designed to help the public visualize environmental topics at a continental scale. An example of this is the pollutant mapping tool in Google Earth that allows you to explore information about more than 30,000 facilities across our Nation, Mexico, and Canada. For professional users of geographic information, this Atlas offers basic cartographic and environmental data for the continent at no cost.

The CEC is an organization created by Canada, Mexico and the United States under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The Commission was established to address regional environmental concerns, to help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and to promote the effective enforcement of environmental law.

Graphic showing sample elevation map
North American Environmental Atlas elevation map.

New Framework Map Layers in Work
Skilled cartographers and technicians have been busy compiling new basic layers of map information for inclusion in the National Atlas of the United States®. This might not seem newsworthy since our staff has maintained and revised these foundation map layers for the past eleven years. We’ve always taken pride in offering an accurate and authoritative set of information about America’s surface waters, boundaries, and transportation networks. What is noteworthy is that we have started fresh using the best available sources to create a new set of these frameworks at a scale of 1:1,000,000 (where one inch on a map represents approximately 16 miles on the land). Until now, all fundamental map layers had been produced at 1:2,000,000 - a legacy of The National Atlas of the United States of America® of 1970 that included a series of basic maps at this scale.

Moving to a scale of 1:1,000,000 offers important advantages to users of the National Atlas. The most apparent of these is that our basic maps will be more detailed. We will be

What you can do in the National Atlas of the United States®
Customize your own map for printing or viewing. Map Maker
Investigate the layers that you can mix and match when making your own map. Map Layers
Print pre-formatted maps on a variety of topics. Printable Maps
Order larger maps suitable for the wall of your office, home, or classroom. Wall Maps
Play with interactive maps. Dynamic Maps
Learn about topics that interest you. Articles

Download documented, accurate, reliable, and integrated data to use in your GIS application. Mapping Professionals

able to map and include more information about the United States than we’ve offered in the past. For those interested in our nation’s streams, lakes, and ponds, we are pleased to announce that our new surface waters map layer is a generalization of the 1:100,000-scale National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). We intend to offer a fully networked version of this map layer that includes flow direction and all other advantages of the NHD. A third benefit of mapping at 1:1,000,000-scale is that the National Atlas of the United States® can fully support the creation of the Global Map. This is an effort by national mapping organizations around the world to produce standard maps that cover the globe. Another potential advantage of mapping at this larger scale relates to the North American Atlas described earlier. Since we started this work in 2004, we have made maps and data at a scale of 1:10,000,000. Atlas programs in Canada and Mexico produce frameworks at 1:1,000,000-scale and we now have the potential to work with our southern and northern partners to produce an integrated set of frameworks for the entire continent at this larger scale.

At present, we are working on tightly integrating these new map layers. We intend to release them all in 2009. Some provisional map layers are already available from the Global Map.

Graphic showing sample pollutants map
North American Environmental Atlas pollutants map.


October 2008

Graphic showing Progress of Global Map development
Progress of Global Map development. Nations in red have contributed data, nations in green are developing data.