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Oregon Lidar and Elevation Data


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Kathy Stroud
University of Oregon Libraries
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1299

Viewing DOGAMI Lidar in ArcGIS

ArcMap, part of ESRI's ArcGIS software suite, is one program that can open and view raster files like the processed DOGAMI lidar. Raster files are a commonly used file type in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The University of Oregon has ArcMap and the ArcGIS software suite on many campus computers. The University of Oregon Social Science Instructional Labs (SSIL) specifically has GIS support if you need it (see links below). The University of Oregon Geography and Planning, Public Policy, and Management (PPPM) departments also offer courses on how to use GIS capabilities.

After opening the ArcMap program, to add the raster elevation data use the main menu and select File -> Add Data... -> Add Data. You can also use the Add Data button on the standard toolbar. See the Basic User Interface Elements webpage linked below for help navigating the main menu and standard toolbar.

In the Add Data window that appears, navigate to the folder containing the raster elevation data. To do this, click the Connect to Folder button. In the window that appears go to the folder that contains the raster file, click on the folder name to select it, and click OK. Once you have connected to the correct folder, in the Add Data window select the raster file by clicking on it, then click the Add button. For example, the Bare Earth raster name should be "bexxxxxxx", where "be" stands for bare earth, and xxxxxxx is a set of numbers and letters that identify the raster location.

For more information about the raster, which should now be displayed in the main data frame, you can right-click the raster layer name in the table of contents. When you right-click the layer name, a pop-up menu should appear. Select Properties, and then within the Properties window that appears click on the Source tab. For example, on the Source tab the row named Cell Size (X,Y) will tell you the dimensions of a single raster cell.

The web sites listed below from ESRI and University of Oregon SSIL can help you navigate important elements of the ArcMap interface.

Creating contours from DOGAMI Lidar data

The raster elevation data can be used for various analysis, but also can be converted to other file types. For example, rasters depicting topography can be converted to contour lines stored as polyline vector shapefiles.

To create a contour shapefile in ArcMap, after your raster data has been added to the data frame you can use the Contour tool in ArcToolbox. To access the Contour tool, on the main menu go to Geoprocessing -> Search for Tools and search Contour in the search menu that should appear on the right side of ArcMap. The 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst versions of Contour are the same tool. NOTE: For this tool to work, you will need to enable the 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst extensions. To do this, on the main menu go to Customize -> Extensions and check the 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst boxes.

Once you open the Contour tool window, to run the tool you need an Input Raster, Output polyline features, and contour interval. The Input Raster is the elevation raster you have open in ArcMap. Output polyline features is the directory and file name you can set for the resulting shapefile. The contour interval sets the frequency of produced contour lines. For example, a contour line of 20 would generate lines every 20 units apart (in this example, feet).

Converting ArcGIS contour files to CAD

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) file types can also be generated by ArcMap from shapefiles. To export the countour line polyline shapefile into CAD files, you can search for and use the Export to CAD tool from the main menu by going to Geoprocessing -> Search for Tools and search Export to CAD in the search menu that should appear on the right side of ArcMap.

In the Export to CAD window that appears when the tool is opened, the Input Feature is the contour polyline file. Output type allows you to choose the exported CAD file type, while Output File is the directory and file name of the resulting CAD file.

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