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U.S. national categorical mapping of building heights by block group from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data


Publication Date


Falcone, J.A., 2016, U.S. national categorical mapping of building heights by block group from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data: U.S. Geological Survey data release,


This dataset is a categorical mapping of estimated mean building heights, by Census block group, in shapefile format for the conterminous United States. The data were derived from the NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which collected “first return” (top of canopy and buildings) radar data at 30-m resolution in February, 2000 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. These data were processed here to estimate building heights nationally, and then aggregated to block group boundaries. The block groups were then categorized into six classes, ranging from “Low” to “Very High”, based on the mean and standard deviation breakpoints of the data. The data were evaluated in several ways, to include comparing them to a reference dataset of 85,000 [...]


Point of Contact :
US Geological Survey, NAWQA
Originator :
James A. Falcone
Metadata Contact :
James Falcone
Distributor :
US Geological Survey - ScienceBase
USGS Mission Area :
Water Resources
SDC Data Owner :
Office of Planning and Programming

Attached Files

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browse-graphic-srtm.jpg thumbnail 413.93 KB image/jpeg
cbsas_num_veryhigh_bgs.xlsx 10.44 KB application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet 318.16 MB application/zip


The purpose of this dataset is to provide a reasonably-accurate, publicly-available mapping of relative building heights at the national scale. Building heights have a number of potential uses in research topics: for example, as a measure of shade to nearby streams, as an indicator of “urban intensity” not captured by traditional horizontal imperviousness, as mapping of potential “viewshed” conflict areas, and more. It is believed a national publicly-available digital mapping of the "verticalness" of the U.S. landscape may aid in such research efforts.
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Additional Information


Type Scheme Key
DOI doi:10.5066/F7W09416

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