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NV5 Geospatial marks 65 years serving Alaska with geospatial projects

July 11, 2022  - By
Photo: A&J Fotos/E+/Getty Images

Photo: A&J Fotos/E+/Getty Images

Work supports climate change research, the 2020 Juneau landslide, and effects of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill

NV5 Geospatial marks its 65th year helping Alaska solve environmental and geospatial challenges, with new hydrospatial projects with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Alaska Railroad Corporation, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“As climate change intensifies, so do the challenges that Alaska and its citizens face,” said Adam McCullough, NV5 Geospatial’s Alaska program manager. “From mapping the coastlines, to collecting lidar and imagery data to better understand geohazards and landslide risks, to mapping rivers, lakes and other surface water features, we are involved in critical projects across the state. We are proud to work side by side with national, state and local governments and agencies, as well as private corporations to facilitate climate-change informed decision making over the state’s valuable, unique resources.”

The following six projects provide a sampling of the work in which NV5 Geospatial has participated across the state:

  • Revillagigedo Topobathymetric Lidar and Imagery Mapping – NV5 Geospatial is working alongside state and federal partners on a multi-year program to map Alaska’s 66,000 miles of complex coastline. This work is part of a larger national shoreline mapping project being undertaken by NOAA to gather baseline data to update nautical charts, manage coastal resources, and define U.S. territorial limits.

The data collected also can support maritime trade and transportation, as well as wave and wind energy site selection. The data supports coastal resiliency efforts that include modeling sea-level change, storm surge, coastal flooding and pollution trajectories, as well as analysis and monitoring of critical habitats, developing land and marine GIS base layers.

  • The Alaska Railroad Corporation (AARC) Lidar Acquisition for Geohazards – AARC engaged Michael Baker and NV5 Geospatial to collect high-resolution topographic lidar and imagery data for analysis of geohazards, hydrology, engineering and landscape ecology across portions of its vast rail network in Alaska. NV5 leveraged its advanced combined low-altitude sensor solution (CLASS) mounted to a helicopter to simultaneously collect lidar, ortho-imagery and oblique images along the rail line that enables researchers to evaluate landslide and hydrological risks in areas of concern.
  • USGS 3DEP Juneau Landslide Lidar Study – In the aftermath of unprecedented rain events in Southeast Alaska in December 2020, the City and Borough of Juneau, along with Alaska Electrical Light & Power, partnered with the USGS to acquire and process 3DEP-compliant airborne topographic lidar data covering the Juneau landslide impact area. The USGS contracted NV5 Geospatial to perform the lidar survey that included acquiring extremely accurate lidar to USGS’s highest quality level specification.

The lidar data will support planning and landslide assessment to enable the reinforcement of critical infrastructure resources in the area. Project stakeholders are able to use this data along with existing lidar collected by NV5 Geospatial in 2013 to study how the landscape is changing in precise detail.

  • Alaska 3D Hydrography Program (3DHP) – The USGS, in partnership with state, local, and tribal governments and others, has embarked on a multi-year effort to enhance the mapping of rivers, lakes and other surface water features for the entire state of Alaska. Supporting that initiative, NV5 Geospatial has been repeatedly contracted by USGS to develop improved hydrography, covering 62,934 square miles to date.

NV5 Geospatial is leveraging the recently completed statewide interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IfSAR) coverage as the elevation data source to define drainages, impoundments and other hydrographic features in greater detail and accuracy. Once completed, the enhanced map data will be used to inform navigable waterways; conduct flood analysis; and delineate wetlands, fish habitat, recreational opportunities, coastal resiliency and more.

  • Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill, National Wetlands Inventory and National Hydrography Dataset – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is leveraging grant funds to map wetlands and hydrography for areas affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. These areas include Kodiak Island, Afognak Island and the shorelines of Shelikof Strait in Alaska. Wetlands data are used by natural resource managers to promote the understanding, conservation and restoration of wetlands, while the hydrographic data supports scientific studies, cartography and natural-resource management associated with inland surface water features.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Aerial Orthoimagery Term Contract – NV5 Geospatial was awarded a large multi-year term contract to support aerial orthoimagery in Alaska. The contract has been used to acquire tens of thousands of square miles of high-resolution orthoimagery covering some of the nation’s largest national forests including Tongass and Chugach, as well as agricultural lands significant to the Natural Resource Conservation Service. These areas are in areas with some of the most challenging weather and terrain anywhere in North America and require aircraft on persistent standby to take advantage of the brief windows of opportunity to collect high-quality imagery.

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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