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This dataset shows the spatial distribution and density of constructed impervious surface areas (ISA). The density of ISA for each grid cell is shown as a percentage of the total area. Examples of ISA include roads, parking lots, building, driveways, sidewalks and other manmade surfaces. The data was regridded from the original resolution (available from the data provider)

Map description and dataset provided by: National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)

DescriptionImpervious Surfaces

While high spatial resolution is required to observe these features, the product we made is at one km resolution and is based on two coarse resolution indicators of ISA. Inputs into the product include the brightness of satellite observed nighttime lights and population count.


Nominally the product is for the years 2000-01 since both the nighttime lights and reference data are from those two years. Hydrologic and environmental impacts of ISA begin to be exhibited when the density of ISA reaches 10% of the land surface. An examination of the areas with 10% or more ISA in watersheds finds that with the exception of Europe, the majority of watershed areas have less than 0.4% of their area at or above the 10% ISA threshold.


The dataset for this map was provided by: , National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)


The model to estimate ISA was calibrated using 30-meter resolution ISA from the U.S. Geological Survey. The distribution of ISA in the world's primary drainage basins indicates that watersheds damaged by ISA are primarily concentrated in the the USA, Europe, Japan, China, and India.


Please cite this map as: "GWSP Digital Water Atlas (2008). Map 80: Impervious Surfaces (V1.0). Available online at http://atlas.gwsp.org."

Contact Information

Earth Observation Group (EOG), National Geophysical Data Center (NGCD) , http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/dmsp/dmsp.html

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