Vertical datum conversion process for the inland and coastal gage network located in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic-Gulf hydrologic regions

Techniques and Methods 11-B8
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Abstract

Datum conversions from the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 among inland and coastal gages throughout the hydrologic regions of New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South Atlantic-Gulf have implications among river and storm surge forecasting, general commerce, and water-control operations. The process of data conversions may involve the application of a recovered National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929–North American Vertical Datum of 1988 offset, a simplistic datum transformation using VDatum or VERTCON software, or a survey, depending on a gaging network datum evaluation, anticipated uncertainties for data use among the cooperative water community, and methods used to derive the conversion. Datum transformations from National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 to North American Vertical Datum of 1988 using VERTCON purport errors of ± 0.13 foot at the 95 percent confidence level among modeled points, claiming more consistency along the east coast. Survey methods involving differential and trigonometric leveling, along with observations using Global Navigation Satellite System technology, afford a variety of approaches to establish or perpetuate a datum during a survey. Uncertainties among leveling approaches are generally < 0.1 foot, and and Global Navigation Satellite System approaches may be categorized with uncertainties of ≤0.1 foot for a Level I quality category and ≥0.1 foot for Level II or III quality categories (defined by the U.S. Geological Survey) by observation and review of experienced practice. The conversion process is initiated with an evaluation of the inland and coastal gage network datum, beginning with altitude datum components and the history of those components queried through the U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater Site Inventory database. Subsequent edits to the Groundwater Site Inventory database may be required and a consensus reached among the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Centers to identify the outstanding workload categorized as in-office datum transformations or offset applications versus out-of-office survey efforts. Datum conversions or datum establishment for the inland or coastal gaging network should meet datum uncertainty requirements among other Federal agencies. Datum uncertainty requirements are ±0.25 foot for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water-control or construction projects and ±0.16 foot for Federal Emergency Management Agency field surveys and checkpoint surveys used for mapping. River level forecasts generally are defined as ± 0.10 foot among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–National Weather Service. Collaboration and communication among the cooperative water community is necessary during a datum conversion or datum change. Datum notification time-change requirements set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–National Weather Service vary from 30 to 120 days, depending on datum conversion or datum-change case scenarios. Notification times associated with these case scenarios may be useful to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–National Weather Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, because their daily operations are time sensitive, unlike the notification time change requirements of other entities that make up the cooperative water community. At the time of this writing, a future geopotential datum resulting from Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum is anticipated in 2022. A future version of VDatum and VERTCON is anticipated to provide a transformation among North American Vertical Datum of 1988 elevations to the new geopotential datum.

Suggested Citation

Rydlund, P.H., Jr., and Noll, M.L., 2017, Vertical datum conversion process for the inland and coastal gage network located in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic-Gulf hydrologic regions (ver. 1.1, July 2017) U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. B8, 29 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm11B8.

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

ISSN: 2328-7047 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract 
  • Introduction
  • Distinction and Purpose of Inland and Coastal Gages
  • Datum Transformation Models
  • Datum Uncertainty Evaluation and Determination
  • Datum Conversion Process
  • Migration Planning and Publishing of Datum Changes
  • Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D)
  • References Cited
  • Glossary

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Vertical datum conversion process for the inland and coastal gage network located in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic-Gulf hydrologic regions
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 11-B8
DOI 10.3133/tm11B8
Edition Version 1.0: Originally posted March 2017; Version 1.1: July 2017
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Office of Surface Water
Description ix, 29 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Section B: U.S. Geological Survey Standards in Book 11: Collection and delineation of spatial data
Public Comments This report is Chapter 8 in Section B: U.S. Geological Survey Standards in Book 11: Collection and delineation of spatial data.
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
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