In response to severe flooding in November 2006, the National Park Service contracted for a high-resolution aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) topographic survey of Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Due to inclement weather, this survey was performed in two stages: early September 2007 and September-October 2008. The total surveyed area of 241,585 acres includes an approximately 100-m-wide buffer zone around the Park to ensure complete coverage and adequate point densities at survey edges. Final results averaged 5.73 laser first return points/m2 over forested and high-elevation terrain, with a vertical accuracy of 3.7 cm on bare road surfaces and mean relative accuracy of 11 cm, based on comparisons between flightlines. Bare-earth topography, as developed by the contractor, is included in this release.
A map of the 2007-2008 limits of glaciers and perennial snowfields was developed by digitizing 1:2,000 to 1:5,000 slope and shaded-relief images derived from the LiDAR topography. Edges of snow and exposed ice are readily seen in such images as sharp changes in surface roughness and slope. Ice mantled by moraine can be distinguished by the moraine's distinctly high roughness due to ice motion and melting, local exposures of smooth ice, and commonly by the presence of crevasses and shear boundaries. A map of the 1970 limits of ice and perennial snow was also developed by digitizing the snow and ice perimeters as depicted on the hydrologic separates used to produce the 1:24,000 topographic maps of the Mount Rainier region. These maps, produced in 1971, were derived from September 1970 aerial photographs. Boundaries between adjacent glacier systems were estimated and mapped from drainage divides, including partly emergent rock ridges, lines of diverging slope, and medial moraines.
This data release contains the bare-earth LiDAR data as an ESRI grid file (DS549-Rainier_LiDAR.zip), the glacial limits derived from the USGS 1970 aerial photographs of the Mount Rainier vicinity as a shapefile, and the glacial limits derived from the 2007 to 2008 LiDAR survey as a shapefile (both shapefiles contained in DS549-Glacial_Limits.zip). These geospatial data files require GIS software for viewing.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Digital topographic map showing the extents of glacial ice and perennial snowfields at Mount Rainier, Washington, based on the LiDAR survey of September 2007 to October 2008