New images and data from GOES-16

Visit the page to view and download imagery

Over Christmas break, it was time to automate collecting and displaying the incredibly detailed imagery from the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager. A problem that plagued previous efforts was not accessing the raw data, a netCDF formatted file for the contiguous U.S. which can be downloaded freely from a variety of cloud data hosts. With the raw data, one can project, modify and use it in web mapping libraries like Leaflet.

This page offers a slippy map of grayscale and color imagery and is updated every 15 minutes. You can download GeoTIFFs of rendered layers that can be used in GIS applications.

Arches mapping project

During the Fall 2018 semester, students mapped and visited arches and waterfalls in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge Geological Area. They adopted an arch or waterfall and produced maps, analyses, 3D visualizations, and a web page that explores their arch. Visit the site.

Arches in the Red River Gorge

Article about Boyd’s mapping classes

Thanks to students and crew in the University of Kentucky’s Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES) for this article in their Fall 2018 Newsletter.

Article about Boyd’s teaching experience at UKy (with little Ona in tow)

New position in the Department of Geography

Department of Geography, University of KentuckyI am happy and proud to announce that I have accepted a faculty appointment as Lecturer in the University of Kentucky Department of Geography. Since 2008 I have been teaching in the department as an adjunct. With a potential move to the University of Wisconson Madison to teach GIS, I reflected on the possibilities of focusing on Kentucky and decided to stay in the Bluegrass. New Maps Plus, Geography @ University of KentuckyMy current teaching assignment spans open source and ArcGIS mapping platforms in both the traditional classroom and through online courses in New Maps Plus. Learn more about the opportunities and successes in mapping at the University of Kentucky and consider getting a Masters in Mapping or a graduate certificate in open source mapping.

How will this impact outrageGIS mapping? Not much. The topographic map shop will continue as normal and I will still explore and make unique maps and data for Kentucky and surrounding areas. The main change will be a deprioritizing client work in favor of university projects. For example, this year is the 75th Anniversary of the Department of Geography and is a priority project. outrageGIS mapping will also support the department’s Pauer Center for Cartography, so if you need a custom map we can make through the Center.

Red River Gorge map update

Natural Bridge profile from point cloud

Natural Bridge profile from point cloud

This summer we are planning an update to our popular Red River Gorge trail map. Since the release of the Lidar point cloud data for Daniel Boone National Forest, we have been excited to start the project. With a pixel resolution of 5-foot, this is the most detailed elevation layer we have for the Red River Gorge. Let’s take a look at some samples. An elevation profile of the well-known landmark, Natural Bridge arch, shows canopy slightly dimmed and you can clearly see the arch.

Cliffs over 100 feet in Chimney Top area

Cliffs over 100 feet in Chimney Top area

Many other interesting analyses are planned; for example, where are the high cliffs and overlooks? In the right image, we show the cliffs over 100-feet in height. We can clearly see the high cliffs of Pinch ‘Em Tight, Chimney Top, and the other high cliffs the line the Red River.

Cliffs over 220 feet in Small Wall area along Red River

Cliffs over 220 feet in Small Wall area along Red River

Of course, the inclination is to find the highest cliff in the Red River Geological Area. With a preliminary analysis, we have found the Small Wall climbing area has one of the highest cliffs at 220-feet.

Bluegrass trails, a student mapping project

Bluegrass trails, a student mapping project

Over the course of the spring 2018 semester, UKy Geography students mapped public areas in the Kentucky Bluegrass that offered hiking, walking, or recreation to the public. They could select from one of 10 areas that offered strenuous cliff-lined hiking, sculpture garden walks, or lake-view dog parks.

Lexington Neighborhood Tree Canopy Study

Class mapping project

Web page for student maps

NRE 355, Introduction to Geospatial Applications for Land Analysis, is a class at the University of Kentucky (UK) that uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to study our environment. Every year NRE 355 constructs various maps centered around an environmental theme. Past themes have included Pilot Knob State Nature Preserve and Pine Mountain, both in Kentucky.

This semester our class focused on tree canopy coverage in specific neighborhood associations inside New Circle Road in Lexington, Kentucky to feature ecosystem services provided by urban tree canopy. We use ArcGIS software to process vector, raster, GPS, and lidar data that determines vegetation density, tree canopy coverage, and tree height. We publish GeoPDF and interactive maps that show our work.

This tree canopy study was conducted in several different neighborhoods within the area of New Circle Road in Lexington, Kentucky.

The neighborhoods involved were:

The neighborhood with the most tree canopy per acre was Ashland Park, while the lowest counted tree canopy per acre was in the MLK Neighborhood. The tallest tree was located in the Ashland Neighborhood, a spruce or tulip poplar measuring, with lidar technology, at 114 feet tall.

Visit the website:

Bird’s eye view of the North Limestone Neighborhood Association showing tree heights relative to building heights


Free Maps, homepage, Maps, News

New GOES-16 satellite imagery for Kentucky

High-resolution weather imagery from GOES-16

Though GOES-16 is not officially operational, the availability of imagery has steadily increased. We found the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison hosts a set of imagery. The satellite will become fully online in November and undoubtedly many other data sources will be available.

This weather satellite captures 16 spectral bands with time resolutions as quick as every 30 seconds. The spatial resolution (the size of each pixel) is between 0.5 km and 2 km and the visible grayscale image for the continental US is 12,000 x 9,000 pixels and is collected every 5 minutes.

We wrote a series of crontab jobs to automate the processing of weather imagery to display on our website.

Real-time satellite image maps

Great Smokies solar eclipse images and animations

2:45pm looking across Rich Mountain and Cades Cove

For over a decade we’ve collected views from reliable weather web cams to build daily time-lapse animations for the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ve called the project Yesterday in the Great Smokies and offer a daily archive for the past three calendar years.

The August total solar eclipse in the southern Great Smokies offered a great opportunity to showcase some unique images from the archive.  [Read more…]

Maps at the Woodland Art Fair, August 19-20

2016 Cumberland Gap trail map, hiking information

2016 Cumberland Gap trail map and hiking information

The update to our Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is now available. Much like the old map, our 2017 version is a 1 inch to 1/2 mile scale map with 50-foot contours, trail elevation profiles, and  GPS-mapped trails shown in vivid full-color printing. This year we added a layer that shows the density of canopy coverage and GPS-mapped Caldwell Gap Trail. The size of the park has increased since our last update, so we’ve included most of the additional land.


Gap weather page using Dark Sky weather data

Weather Station

We also have updated our weather page for the high mountain elevations for Cumberland Gap using hourly forecast information and time-lapse satellite photography. This will help plan your latest adventure to unique mountain environment of Cumberland Gap. You can find the weather station here:

[Read more…]

Cumberland Gap weather station

Gap weather page using Dark Sky weather data

We’ve updated our Cumberland Gap National Historical Park weather station! With the release of our 2017 trail map for the Gap, we decided to go in a new direction for our weather station. Our stations for the Daniel Boone and Great Smokies pull data and images from the National Weather Service. We then use ImageMagick and other UNIX utilities to process the data. It is kinda old-school, but it has worked well for years.

With the Gap weather station, we decided to go with the Dark Sky team. They made a big impact a few years ago with their weather maps so we decided to try their extremely detailed point location forecast data.Their API is well documented and we use mostly Javascript to build the weather page. We focused on weather conditions at the top of the mountain since the park has over 2000 vertical feet of elevation relief. We couldn’t the same detail from the NWS. As we explore the mountains we’ll compare the relative advantages of both of these data sources.

You can find the mountain top weather page here:

Kentucky River trails

Trails and hikes along the Kentucky River and in the greater Lexington area.

We’re excited to start compiling great hikes near Lexington and along the Kentucky River. Often we feel compelled to travel long distances to find natural areas to enjoy. While the Daniel Boone and Big South Fork forests provide multiday excursions, we can find challenging explorations along the Kentucky River and shared use paths in the Bluegrass. We also wanted to focus on opportunities to enjoy our tree canopy since most of our surrounding countryside is dedicated to private pasture and farmland.

Our goal is to do good research and offer a free map here to use on your mobile device. We will focus on five types of trails.

  1. Rugged and remote trails along the Kentucky River where on can explore the unique ecosystem of the Palisades.
  2. Shared-use trails that connect different parts of a city and provide opportunities to explore the urban edges.
  3. Walking trails, which are typically paved, that families can use to exercise and take a break from street sidewalks.
  4. Bike trails in the area, which are typically mountain bike and technical, but try to suggest trails that young cyclists can use for off-road fun.
  5. Canoeing opportunities on our public streams.

Enlarge map:

You can follow our explorations on Pixel’s Travels. Here is 360 photo of the John Holder Public Trail in the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve.

Students map Town Branch Trail

Town Branch Trail in maps

Students create many maps and a website for the soon-to-be-built Town Branch Trail during the Spring 2017 semester in the GEO 409 (Advanced Topics in GIS) in the Department of Geography, University of Kentucky. We used mainly open source GIS software QGIS and GitHub to create and publish our maps.

We used mainly open source GIS software QGIS and GitHub to create and publish our maps. For the final project, students grouped into separate teams for web page production, field GPS and photography, story production, and 3D mapping.

An interactive map of the content produced for the final project can be found in the following map:

[Read more…]

Sheltowee Trace interactive mobile map

Locate yourself on the ST

We’ve updated our map of the Sheltowee Trace on our ST site: The map has symbols for official recreation sites and trails for the Daniel Boone National Forest, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Cumberland Falls and Natural Bridge State Resort Parks. Of course, it has the ST and mile markers from the northern terminus.

Since we deployed this map last year, we have updated the Leaflet and MapBox JS to make the work with a GPS-enabled device as long as you have a cellular data connection. The points of interests and trails are clickable with useful travel information.

Our next goal is to fill out the map with more scenic destinations and include more photographs. Let us know if you have any suggestions.

[Read more…]

Robinson Forest NRES camp 2017

360 photography at camp

This is the third year teaching at the UK NRES (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences) summer camp. This course was a one-day GPS and GIS exercise to map the interpretive trails around base camp. With seventeen undergraduates and their mobile devices, we split into two teams. One team focused on the trail network and GPS mapped trail alignment and intersections. A second team mapped points of interests and interpretive sites along the main hiking trail up to the fire tower.

We worked in the camp classroom with QGIS, the leading free and open source GIS software, to make all of our maps. We imported our GPS data as KML or GPX formatted text files, which we then edited in QGIS. We created a shaded relief base map from DEM data (using the Terrain plugin!) over which we laid the cleaned trail data. We finally exported a GeoTIFF which could be loaded on mobile devices and used to locate position without requiring a cellular data connection.

Link to interactive map (6 MB)

We also touched on how to make interactive 3D maps. QGIS offers one of the richest environments to experiment with GIS data. We introduced a plugin, qgis2threejs, that is perhaps the easiest method to make online 3d maps. Take a look!

Robinson Forest

Robinson Forest Camp trail map

Robinson Forest Camp trail map

Last year, we GPS mapped the road to the fire tower. During the first year, we spent time making a static bird’s eye view of the main trail up to the fire tower. Since the first year, some students have asked about updating the map in the trailhead kiosk. It is a block diagram of the trail and its style is dated. This year, we discovered that theqgis2threejs QGIS plugin can make similar block diagrams. Maybe one year we can get one of these maps in the kiosk!

3D map with 2014 aerial photography (25 MB)


Your Cart