The 3D Elevation Program—Flood risk management

Fact Sheet 2017-3081
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Abstract

Flood-damage reduction in the United States has been a longstanding but elusive societal goal. The national strategy for reducing flood damage has shifted over recent decades from a focus on construction of flood-control dams and levee systems to a three-pronged strategy to (1) improve the design and operation of such structures, (2) provide more accurate and accessible flood forecasting, and (3) shift the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program to a more balanced, less costly flood-insurance paradigm. Expanding the availability and use of high-quality, three-dimensional (3D) elevation information derived from modern light detection and ranging (lidar) technologies to provide essential terrain data poses a singular opportunity to dramatically enhance the effectiveness of all three components of this strategy. Additionally, FEMA, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have developed tools and joint program activities to support the national strategy.

The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) has the programmatic infrastructure to produce and provide essential terrain data. This infrastructure includes (1) data acquisition partnerships that leverage funding and reduce duplicative efforts, (2) contracts with experienced private mapping firms that ensure acquisition of consistent, low-cost 3D elevation data, and (3) the technical expertise, standards, and specifications required for consistent, edge-to-edge utility across multiple collection platforms and public access unfettered by individual database designs and limitations.

High-quality elevation data, like that collected through 3DEP, are invaluable for assessing and documenting flood risk and communicating detailed information to both responders and planners alike. Multiple flood-mapping programs make use of USGS streamflow and 3DEP data. Flood insurance rate maps, flood documentation studies, and flood-inundation map libraries are products of these programs.

Suggested Citation

Carswell, W.J., Jr., and Lukas, Vicki, 2018, The 3D Elevation Program—Flood risk management: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017-3081, 6 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173081.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Table of Contents

  • Flood Hazard to Flood Risk
  • USGS Streamflow and 3DEP Data Support Flood Risk Management
  • Assessing, Documenting, and Communicating Flood Risk Information
  • Benefits of 3D Elevation Data
  • Maximized Benefits and Minimized Risks
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The 3D Elevation Program—Flood risk management
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2017-3081
DOI 10.3133/fs20173081
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Geospatial Program
Description 6 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N