Coastal IfSAR

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The NOAA Office for Coastal Management provides public IfSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) data that were collected as part of the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (SCWRP). The SCWRP used high-resolution elevation data to help define the extent of wetland and riparian zones.

Additionally, although not available for download from the Digital Coast, licensed IfSAR data are available for the coastal areas of northern and central California, the Gulf Coast region, and the eight major islands in Hawaii. The licensed data were purchased to provide coverage in areas lacking lidar-based elevation data and to test the technology. Users can see the bounds of the data sets and request data and sign a license agreement through the provided contact information.

Data Specifications

  • Area of Coverage: Partial or full coastal counties in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, California, and Hawaii
  • Date(s) Available: 2002 to 2003, 2004, and 2006 (vary by location)
  • Format: Digital elevation model and orthorectified radar image (ORI) in ERDAS.img, GeoTIFF, and JPEG
  • Resolution: Five meter digital terrain model (DTM) or digital surface model (DSM); one meter ORI
  • Accuracy: DTM elevations of 0.5 meter to 1.0 meter root mean square error in un-obscured areas.


The Office for Coastal Management's IfSAR data consist of two separate data sets, the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (SCWRP) data, a GeoSAR collection, and the licensed data for the coastal areas of northern and central California, the Gulf Coast region, and the eight major islands of Hawaii, which is a NEXTMap collection. These data sets were collected by different groups using slightly different sensors. Each is a slightly different product.

GeoSAR (Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project data)
This data set was collected by EarthData in 2002-2003. The collection consists of two products: a digital elevation model (DEM) and an orthorectified image (ORI). The DEM is a surface model. The ORI is an image produced by the differing radar signal returns. A separate ancillary data set reflecting the general accuracy of the DEM is also available. All these data are available for download.

NEXTMap (California, Gulf Coast, and Hawaii data)
This data set was collected by Intermap in 2004. The collection consists of three products: a digital surface model (DSM), a digital terrain model (DTM), and an ORI. The DSM is the surface model produced from the IfSAR data and includes features such as trees, buildings, and bridges. The DTM is a refined DSM, which means that efforts were made to remove these features where possible. The ORI is similar to the GesoSAR ORI.

Users can see the bounds of these data sets, but the data are licensed and not available for direct download from Digital Coast. Local, state, academic, and nonprofit organizations involved in coastal management may obtain the data by contacting the Office for Coastal Management at The office will provide the requestor's information to Intermap, the data supplier, who will then grant the requesting organization an end-user license agreement for the data.

Notes and Limitations: DTMs from Intermap are processed to remove vegetation and structures. The process is run only in areas that have less than two acres of continuous vegetation or buildings. For this reason, accuracies are highly dependent on the land cover. Stated accuracies are quoted only in areas with limited vegetation cover and structure size.

Stories from the Field

Assessing Hydrologic Processes to Mitigate Coral Reef Degradation in Hawaii
C-CAP data were analyzed using the Nonpoint Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool to understand hydrologic processes in the Hanalei Bay watershed.

Capturing Traditional Knowledge to Inform Restoration Planning in Hawai’i
Participatory mapping incorporates traditional knowledge into coastal planning and restoration.

Identifying Areas for Water Quality Improvement Projects in Oahu, Hawaii
The Habitat Priority Planner and N-SPECT were used with lidar and land cover data to identify sites that affect water quality in the Ko’olaupoko region.


Coastal Elevation List Server
Provides subscribers with an easy way to stay in touch with the community of practitioners providing and applying high-resolution elevation data in coastal areas

IfSAR Notes and Considerations
Provides initial guidance on the use of IfSAR products, including limitations

Comparison of Lidar, IfSAR, and ADS40 Elevation Data

Intermap Site
Provides information about IfSAR and other Intermap products