ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World Layers for Water Resources

It is exciting to start a new hydro project, from floodplain delineation to planning green infrastructure. During the inception phase, it is essential to gather as much information as possible: what is the terrain elevation? where are the local streams and how are they connected? what is the dominant soil type? Layers in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World facilitate the process of setting up a new project and provide a quick glance of the fundamental local characteristics of the project.



Elevation is cornerstone in any hydro project. Living Atlas provides elevation layers as image services.

Note: Each elevation variable is implemented as a server raster function. You can quickly change the displayed variable by selecting a different processing template in the layer’s properties.



The representation of drainage network features such as rivers, creeks, or canals show how water flows in the landscape. Living Atlas includes USA data from the USGS and Global data from GEOGloWS.

Discharge Stations, Streamflow Forecast, and Flood Hazard


Hydraulic Structures

Land-Surface Models

Monthly gridded variables from the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS 2.1).

Land Use, Land Cover, and Soils

Land cover information from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and soil characteristics from the Soil survey Geographic Database (SSURGO).



Weather data from radar, remote sensing, or in-situ stations and weather warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS).


Water Quality

Impaired waters by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Analysis tools in ArcGIS Online

Online tools especially useful for preliminary analysis of a study area.



A basemap is a useful reference and brings context to a map. ArcGIS Online has dozens of basemaps, here is a short list of ones that can be relevant for hydro projects.


Living Atlas includes a collection of water resources layers suitable for hydro projects. These layers support any stage of your project: from preliminary assessment of a study area to hydraulic modelling. Moreover, project results can be easily shared in ArcGIS Online as hosted layers, web maps, and web apps.


Image by Tim Whiteaker, The University of Texas at Austin, Brazos Water Operations Model

More Information?

Join GeoNet and ask questions to the Living Atlas community of experts.

About the author

Gonzalo Espinoza is a Principal GIS Engineer at ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. Gonzalo specializes in hydrologic modeling, real time climate and hydro-informatic tools such as flood mapping and forecasting using National Water Model data. He masters the full geospatial tech stack required to develop scalable and operational services relying on large volumes of EO data in the fields of water and environment. At Living Atlas, he also supports the development of workflows for automation of data updates known as Live Feeds, technology used at Esri’s Disaster Response Program. Before ESRI Gonzalo worked in the development of Water Accounting at UNESCO IHE. He holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

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