ArcGIS Living Atlas

ArcGIS Living Atlas News (December 2021)

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is the foremost collection of geographic information from around the globe. It includes curated maps, apps, and data layers from Esri and the global GIS user community that support your work. Living Atlas also includes analysis-ready layers and tools that work across the ArcGIS System. Visit the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website where you can browse content, view the blog, and learn how you can contribute.

Here’s what’s new since the last ArcGIS Living Atlas News (September 2021). The entire collection of ArcGIS Living Atlas News can be found at the ArcGIS Blog.

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Living Atlas Apps

Content from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is used to make stunning, valuable apps for visualization and analysis. These apps can be found under the apps tab at the Living Atlas website or via search at the Living Atlas browse tab. The following are updates that have been recently made to several apps.

SSURGO Downloader

Soil map units are the basic geographic unit of the Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO). The SSURGO dataset is a compilation of soils information collected over the last century by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with over 170 attributes. Data for each map unit contains descriptions of the soil’s components, productivity, unique properties, and suitability.

SSURGO Downloader
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Using the app you can download ready-to-use project packages for use in ArcGIS Desktop with over 170 attributes derived from the SSURGO dataset. The map packages have been updated to include the July, 2021, SSURGO data.

U.S. Vessel Traffic

The U.S. Vessel Traffic app and map have been updated to include Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel traffic dating back to 2015. Previously the app and map showed vessel traffic back to 2017.

ArcGIS Living Atlas Live Feeds Status

Living Atlas Live Feeds Status is a simple to navigate page displaying the current service status for Esri live feeds. The page displays a summarized view of each service, showing the current status and usage trend, along with an RSS link.

Live Feeds status
Open Live Feeds Status

The RSS link has been recently enhanced to trigger when status information from the system administrator appears which might contain additional details related to the service availability or planned events (such as maintenance). Emergency and response personnel can subscribe to stay abreast of any changes that may impact service availability or performance.

Ecological Marine Unit Explorer

The Ecological Marine Unit Explorer is a web-based application that is used to explore different water characteristics available from NOAA’s World Ocean Atlas. The underlying data for the app has recently been updated.



Esri basemaps are updated regularly with data from commercial, open, and community sources. All vector basemaps have been updated using data from HERE, SafeGraph Places, and content contributed to the Community Maps Program. In addition, some styles and symbols have been updated and additional languages have been added. For more information on recent updates, see the latest vector basemaps blog articles. You can view all vector basemaps by browsing Living Atlas.

OpenStreetMap (OSM)

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open, collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Esri publishes the OSM basemap in a variety of styles and also includes the Daylight Map Distribution of OSM data. The Daylight distribution is enhanced with additional data quality and integrity checks and supplemented with buildings data from Microsoft. The OSM Daylight basemaps are updated every month with the latest data.

Open Street Map (OSM)
View all OSM content

Styles for OSM basemaps have been recently updated and they are now available in WGS84 (Version 2).  To view the collection, open the OpenStreetMap Vector Basemap group or view all OSM content in Living Atlas.

Porcelain basemap

This new basemap uses a combination of blend modes and effects with imagery, hillshade, and reference layers, to create a muted landcover-tinted natural appearance. It is appropriate for reference mapping, physical/environmental geography themes, or thematic maps where a muted representation of the natural environment provides helpful context.

Porcelain map
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Note that Porcelain uses new capabilities in Map Viewer that are not supported in Map Viewer Classic.

Raster basemaps in mature support

A reminder that the non-imagery raster basemaps are now in mature support. Administrators should ensure their organization basemap gallery no longer includes raster basemaps (not including imagery, elevation, and polar maps).

Administrators will see a reminder to update if the older default basemaps are in use, however if you have implemented a custom basemap gallery you should verify basemaps manually. To learn which services are no longer updated and suggested vector basemap alternatives, see Raster basemaps moved to mature support. For more information, see Basemap gallery and Update basemap gallery.


World Elevation

Living Atlas provides foundational elevation layers and tools to support analysis and visualization across the ArcGIS system. These layers are updated quarterly with high-resolution elevation data from various sources and the Community Maps Program.

Terrain and TopoBathy have been updated with 1-meter DTMs covering partial areas of New Zealand and 50-centimeter DTMs covering the state of Burgenland, Austria.

The TopoBathy layer has been updated with 1-3 meters swissBATHY3D bathymetric datasets from Swiss Topo covering lake beds of Switzerland and 1-3 meters USGS Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) topobathymetric datasets covering partial coastal areas of California, Chesapeake Bay, New Jersey, Delaware, Mobile Bay, Tampa Bay, and North Carolina.

World elevation
Open World Elevation group

For more information, see High resolution updates to Living Atlas world elevation layers.



World imagery

This past year brought many updates to the World Imagery map. Globally in 2021 these include:

You can track these recently published updates and other pending updates using the World Imagery Publication Summary app.

VIIRS Nighttime Lights

The VIIRS Nighttime Lights Monthly Cloud-Free Composite is produced using average radiance composite images and excludes any data impacted by stray light. VIIRS nighttime lights has been updated to show current conditions as of July, 2021.

VIIRS Nighttime Lime
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First Street Foundation

First Street Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and technology group working to define America’s growing climate risk. The Foundation uses transparent, peer-reviewed methodologies to calculate the past, present, and future climate risk and economic impact to individual homes and properties across the United States. The Foundation’s data empowers Americans to learn about and protect themselves from increasing risk associated with climate change.

First Street Foundation
View all First Street Foundation content

FEMA National Risk Index (NRI)

The FEMA National Risk Index helps illustrate the U.S. communities most at risk for 18 natural hazards. These layers visualize natural hazard risk metrics and include information about expected annual losses, social vulnerability, and community resilience. The layers include state, county, and census tract level geographies. See Evaluate natural hazard risk with FEMA’s National Risk Index to learn more about putting these maps and layers to use.

FEMA National Risk
View FEMA risk layers

National Geographic Pristine Seas

In collaboration with National Geographic, a collection of content has been published documenting global ocean conservation rankings using ocean variables used to prioritize conservation actions aimed at biodiversity protection. The conservation action being prioritized is highly protected Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The content includes several layers:

Global Ocean Conservation Priorities – Biodiversity Protection

Global Ocean Conservation Priorities – Carbon Protection

Global Ocean Conservation Priorities – Food Provision

Global Ocean Conservation Priorities – Biodiversity, Food, and Carbon

Ocean conservation priorities
View Pristine Seas content

For more information, see Protecting our pristine seas.

Oceans layers

New content for oceans has been published. These include the following:

Seabed lithology

Knowing the patterns of distribution of sediments in the global ocean is critical for understanding biogeochemical cycles and how deep-sea deposits respond to environmental change at the sea surface. This layer represents the first digital map of seafloor lithologies based on descriptions of nearly 14,500 samples from original cruise reports, interpolated using a vector machine algorithm.

Seabed lithology
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Latest shipboard observations

Shipboard sensors provide meteorological and oceanographic measurements for the marine environment.  This information is made available through the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and this layer pulls updates direct from the NDBC hourly (at the top of the hour).  The most recent observation data is made available for each of the reporting ships.  This layer is time enabled, allowing access to historical data. For more information, view the item details.

National Data Buoy Center Latest Station Observations

Buoys provide meteorological and oceanographic measurements for the marine environment.  This information is made available through the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and this layer pulls updates direct from the NDBC hourly (at the top of the hour).  The most recent observation data is made available for each of the stations. View the item details for more information.

Current Gulf Stream Boundary

The position of the Gulf Stream is always changing based on water temperatures and currents.  This layer, derived from the Gulf Stream ASCII Data provided to the Ocean Prediction Center by the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO) shows the northern and southern wall boundary is updated daily. View the item details for more information.

Seafloor Crustal Age

Seafloor Crustal Age displays the age of the world’s ocean crust using data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).


Other environment layers

US Wind Turbine database

The United States Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) provides the locations of land-based and offshore wind turbines in the United States, corresponding wind project information, and turbine technical specifications.

US Wind Turbine database
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US Annual average wind speed

Annual average wind speed for the year 2012 from 10m to 200m elevation derived from the Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit, an update and expansion of the Eastern Wind Integration Data Set and Western Wind Integration Data Set. The layer is intended to support the next generation of wind integration studies. View item details.

Plate Isopachs

This layer presents global sediment isopachs showing sediment thickness for each of the major plates. The data is sourced from the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics. View item details.

USA Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms

This layer shows drilling platforms within the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Southern California. Data is sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) website. The point features in this layer contain attributes about the details of drilling platform structures such as the type of structure, and whether personnel are present. Additional attributes from the Platform Structures table describe the physical characteristics of each platform.

USA Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms
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USA Bathymetric Contours

This layer contains bathymetric contours which present the size, shape and distribution of underwater features.  Contours were derived from the Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) Synthesis, a multi-resolution gridded global Digital Elevation Model (DEM) that includes cleaned and processed ship-based multibeam sonar data at their full spatial resolution (~100m in the deep sea). View item details.

Environment content updates

USA Storm Reports

A recent upgrade to the USA Storm Reports layer now includes “local storm reports”, which expands the types of severe weather from 3 to 48 types. For more information, see USA Storm Reports live feed: now even stormier.

USA Storm Reports
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USA NLDC Impervious Surface Time Series had been updated with additional years. For more information, see USA NLCD Land Cover: Newly revised and updated.

USA Flood Hazard Areas feature layer, imagery layer, and web map have been updated.

USA SSURGO map services have been updated to include the July, 2021, SSURGO data..





WorldPop has partnered with Esri to publish annual gridded population datasets, covering 241 countries, territories and dependencies, for the 2000-2020 period. These multitemporal layers represent a 1-km grid-cell level spatial distribution of total population, sex and age cohorts, and population density providing a consistent and comparable framework for data integration and analysis.

The layers support exploring the entire twenty-one-year history of population changes for any group, including births and five-year age cohorts. The results of these queries can be spatiotemporally analyzed to find patterns. Since this data can now be accessed directly from Living Atlas, it eliminates the need to downloaded or pre-assemble the data prior to use, resulting in substantial time and cost savings for any organization needing to understand recent population changes.

View all WorldPop content

Explore the web maps in this portfolio to see how recently added display effects in ArcGIS Online can be applied to WorldPop’s population density layer.


Policy maps

Census redistricting data and maps

The U.S. Census Bureau is required to provide states tabulations of population, which were released on August 12th, 2021. This data is now available in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World for the entire country and for individual states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The data is aggregated from state down to block level and includes an additional six levels of geography: state legislative districts (upper and lower), congressional districts, Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA), incorporated places, and Census Designated Places (CDP).

For more information, see:

Census 2020 Housing Vacancy
View all Census 2020 content

The complete collection of Living Atlas Census 2020 maps, layers and apps can be viewed in:

Decennial 2020 Census Map and App Examples (group)

Decennial 2020 Census Data Layers (group)

Recently added content based on Census 2020 data include:

Hispanic or Latino and Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) Population in the US (Census 2020)

Hispanic and Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) Population in the US (Census 2020)

Concentration of Hispanic Population in the US (Census 2020)

Concentration of Black or African American Population in the US (Census 2020)

Percent of Population who are Black or African American (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Hispanic or Latino – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Asian (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are White (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are American Indian or Alaska Native (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Two or More Races (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Some Other Race (Non-Hispanic or Latino) – Census 2020

Where are Hispanic or Non-Hispanic populations larger? (Census 2020)

Housing Vacancy Rates by human settlement (Census 2020)

Multiracial American Indian and Alaska Native as a percent of Total American Indian and Alaska Native

Multiracial Asian as a percent of Total Asian

Multiracial Black or African American as a percent of Total Black or African American

Multiracial Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander as a percent of Total Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

Multiracial Some Other Race as a percent of Total Some Other Race

Multiracial White as a percent of Total White

Housing Vacancy by rate and count (Census 2020)

Adults in Correctional Facilities

Children in Juvenile Facilities

Census 2020 atlases

The following are newly added Census 2020 atlases created using the Portfolio Instant App.

Census 2020 Race and Ethnicity in the US

Census 2020 Atlas of Multiracial Population

Census 2020 Atlas of Group Quarters

Census 2020 Atlases
View all Census 2020 atlases

Census 2020 chart apps

The following apps display Census 2020 maps and layers using the Chart Viewer Instant App, delivering an interactive map and chart experience to explore the data.

Census 2020 chart apps
View Census 2020 chart apps

Predominant Group Quarters (Census 2020) with Chart

Predominant Race and Ethnicity in the US (Census 2020) with Chart

Percent of Population who are American Indian or Alaska Native (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Asian (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Black or African American (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Some Other Race (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are Two or More Races (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

Percent of Population who are White (Non-Hispanic or Latino) with Chart – Census 2020

American Community Survey (ACS)

The Living Atlas Policy Maps team maintains a large collection of containing a wealth of data from U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). ACS is an ongoing survey by the U.S. Census Bureau that provides vital information on a yearly basis about our nation and its people. To learn more about how you can leverage ACS content across the ArcGIS system, see Easily access and use American Community Survey Data.

New maps and apps based on ACS data have been recently published and are available in Living Atlas with maps available in Esri Maps for Public Policy. These include:

Where are those who are peak working-age and not working?

Predominant Type of Housing Structure

The Census has delayed release of its next ACS update until March 2022. For more information, see Updates coming to American Community Survey layers in ArcGIS Living Atlas (Spring 2022).

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision making. Recent content additions based on BLS data include the following:

What percent of workers quit their jobs in August 2021 in the US?

How much did the quit rate change between July 2021 and August 2021?

How much did the quit rate change between August 2020 and August 2021?

US BLS Labor Turnover Atlas (August 2021)

Grocery Store Access

Grocery Access in the U.S. and Puerto Rico shows which areas are within a ten minute walk or ten minute drive of a grocery store in the United States and Puerto Rico. Enter a ZIP code, city, or point of interest to learn how many stores people can reach in a 10-minute walk or drive. Interactive charts update as you move around the map or draw shapes to show the population within walkable access.

Grocery Access
Open app

The cartography has been updated to leverage new effects and blending capabilities in Map Viewer, delivering a more impactful presentation. For more information, see Measure and map access to grocery stores.

Esri Maps for Public Policy

Policy maps clearly show where there is an opportunity to intervene. Esri Maps for Public Policy provides instant access to useful maps that illuminate areas where your work can make a difference. Free to the public to view and use, these policy maps give your team a head start understanding the people, organizations and issues in your community.

To get the most out of Policy Maps, resources are available for education, training, best practices, and industry perspectives that help raise your data literacy, provide you with models, and connect you with the work of your peers. See Esri Maps for Public Policy Resources.

Policy Maps Collections

Policy Maps collections gather stories and resources from the Esri Maps for Public Policy website to help you learn more about specific topics. The collections include forms for you to submit your own maps to expand understanding.

A selection of new maps maps based on Census 2020 data (listed in the section above) have been added to several collections, making it easier to share census information. The website has also been updated. For more information, see the Esri Maps for Public Policy overview. To explore collections and share with others, open the Esri Maps for Public Policy app.


Analysis tools

Deep learning models

Ready-to-use pretrained deep learning models are now available via ArcGIS Living Atlas. These models have been trained on data from a variety of geographies, you no longer have to invest time and energy into manually extracting features or training your own deep learning model. As new imagery comes in, you can readily extract features at the click of a button and produce layers for mapping, visualization and analysis.

New pre-trained deep learning models have been added:

Ship Detection (SAR)

Mangrove Classification (Landsat 8)

Well Pad Detection – Permian Basin

Human Settlements Classification

For more information, see What’s new in ArcGIS pretrained models.

Other tools

In addition to deep learning packages, Living Atlas includes a collection of raster function templates and rule packages. View all tools.


Community Maps

The Community Maps Program enables community contributions of authoritative data to help build the ArcGIS Living Atlas. You can provide feedback, create detailed features, share data layers and services, and contribute to Esri basemaps that anyone can use.

If you don’t have a collection of data layers to offer, but still want to contribute, consider adding content through the Community Maps Editor app. Edit parts of the Esri Community Maps basemap to add detailed features for universities, schools, parks, landmarks, and other special areas of interest.

For more information and community stories, see Community Maps blog articles.


More information

For more information, see the following:

About the author

I am a corporate technology evangelist and geo advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with ArcGIS. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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