Base Map Data

Jan 20, 2010 at 7:39 PM

The current version of HydroDesktop only contains a limited set of base map data (world countries, ocean depth, major U.S rivers, U.S states, U.S. counties, U.S. HUC. We would like to improve the base map data for HydroDesktop. When zoomed in, a more detailed river network and other hydrological features should be shown. Before the web map service capability is added to HydroDesktop we should include the detailed base map data as shapefiles in the installation package.

Could anybody from the group suggest the global and U.S hydrologic map datasets which should be distributed with HydroDesktop? Especially we would like to include a more detailed river network, lakes, major aquifers, watershed boundaries and land elevation. Any links or suggestions are appreciated.

Jan 20, 2010 at 9:54 PM

It would be fantastic if we could use WMS or ArcGIS map services.  Then we could have lovely basemaps like this one.

Apr 13, 2010 at 3:49 PM

In addition to web map services, I suggest using the following base maps from:

This is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. It includes high quality physical and up-to date cultural themes.

Apr 27, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I've made a couple of inquiries to the USGS regarding use of their national map and national atlas data.  I've also looked into HydroSHEDS (  Based on their "Redistribution Restrictions," it looks like we can redistribute the data with HydroDesktop as long as we get the "HydroSHEDS authors"'s permission.  I've emailed to request permission, and am awaiting their response.


What is the target size of data that we want to distribute with HydroDesktop?  For example, according to their website, shipping the HydroSHEDS 90m flow direction grid for South America is between 1 and 5 GB, zipped.  A shapefile of the river network for one continent is 10-50 MB zipped.


1. What's the target size of compressed basemap data for distribution with HydroDesktop?

Currently, the basemap data that ships with HydroDesktop is 84 MB uncompressed, 25 MB zipped.


2. What types of datasets shall we include? 

Currently, we include the following vector data (with feature count):

Continental US cities (3128)

Continental US major rivers (49)

Continental US roads (634)

Continental US counties (3111)

Continental US 8-digit HUCs (2111)

US 8-digit HUCs (2264)

Continental US lakes (29)

Continental US states (49)

World countries (209)


We also provide the following raster data:

Ocean depth (png)


3. What scale of data will we provide (90 meter, 30 arc second, etc.)?


Apr 27, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I checked out Natural Earth Data.

Their terms of use state that anyone can do whatever they want with the data, without need for attribution, credit, or permission.  In other words, it's free to use.

It includes the following datasets:


CULTURAL VECTOR DATA (85 MB total in size for download at 1:10,000,000 scale)


Disputed areas and breakaway regions

First order admin (provinces, departments, states, etc.)

Populated places – point symbols with name attributes.

Urban polygons – derived from 2002-2003 MODIS satellite data.

Parks and protected areas – US National Park Service units.

Pacific nation groupings – boxes for keeping these far-flung islands tidy.

Water boundary indicators – partial selection of key 200-mile nautical limits, plus some disputed, treaty, and median lines.


PHYSICAL VECTOR DATA (38 MB total in size for download at 1:10,000,000 scale)




Minor Islands


Physical region features

Rivers and Lake Centerlines


Glaciated areas

Antarctic ice shelves

Bathymetry – nested polygons at 0, -200, -1,000, -2,000, -3,000, -4,000, -5,000, -6,000, -7,000, -8,000, -9,000,and -10,000 meters. Created from SRTM Plus.

Geographic lines – Polar circles, tropical circles, equator, and International Date Line.

Graticules – 1-, 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-degree increments. Includes WGS84 bounding box.


RASTER DATA (each dataset 25 MB to 378 MB in size for download at 1:10,000,000 scale)

Cross Blended Hypsometric Tints – Shaded relief combined with custom elevation colors based on climate—lowlands in humid areas are green and arid regions are brown.

Natural Earth 1 – Satellite-derived land cover data and shaded relief presented with a light, natural palette suitable for making thematic and reference maps.

Natural Earth 2 – This data derived from Natural Earth 1 portrays the world environment in an idealized manner with little human influence.

Ocean Bottom– Blended depth colors and relief shading of the ocean bottom derived from CleanTOPO2 data.

Bathymetry – Rasterized ocean depth polygons in a layered Photoshop file that you can manipulate for color and then save a GeoTIF to use with the provided TFW world file.

Shaded Relief – Grayscale shaded relief of land areas only derived from downsampled SRTM Plus elevation data clipped to Natural Earth vector coastlines. A flat gray tint occupies water areas.

Apr 27, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I received an email back from USGS regarding the national atlas.  The email states that the data are free to use without cost, permission, or copyright restrictions.  I suspect that all USGS products that we're considering are in the public domain.


Jun 21, 2010 at 10:03 PM
The link to USGS National Atlas Raw data is: