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Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) : Aerial Imagery Resources

Information on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), maps and mapping tools/software & digital map/geospatial data resrouces

Wisconsin Aerial Imagery

GeoData@Wisconsin Aerial Imagery Collection
The GeoData@Wisconsin geoportal provides access to Wisconsin digital aerial imagery of various vintages and scales, acquired/flown by different agencies and organizations.  Additional information about the imagery (including source agencies) can be found in the metadata associated with each collection. Most of the imagery is archived in the WisconsinView repository at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at UW-Madison, but made available for public download from GeoData@Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Catalog of Aerial Photography
The Aerial Photography Catalog is a directory of historic Wisconsin aerial photography dating back to the late 1920's. While the Aerial Photography Catalog does not contain individual photographs to download, it points to sources that have printed or digital copies of the products listed. In most cases, you must contact the listed source for more information.

Copies of aerial photographs have historically been scattered among many sources like county land information offices, city halls, regional planning commissions, map libraries, and federal agencies. Aerial photographs come in a number of different formats, both print and digital, and also with varying degrees of documentation. Some photos are only available as a print, and require direct contact with the source listed in the catalog. However, you will find that some products listed in the catalog are digital and are available online from one or more sources.

WHAIFinder (Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder)
The Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder provides free online access to over 38,000 aerial photographs of Wisconsin from 1937-41. These photographs were originally acquired by the US Department of Agriculture. As part of a three-year project funded by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, these photographs were scanned, indexed, and made web-accessible through a map-based interface. These photographs are available for download by any user without fee or use restrictions. Collaborators on the Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder project include the Wisconsin State Cartographers Office, The Arthur H. Robinson Map Library, the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Leaf-Off Imagery Layer
Web map displaying WI DNR's Wisconsin Leaf-Off Digital Orthophotography imagery layer along with an index layer.  This map can be used to identify the year and resolution of each county's imagery in this image service, or as a starting point to create a new map. To open the web map from DNR's GIS Open Data Portal, click the View Metadata link to the right of the description, then click Open in Map Viewer. *Note that this web map only contains DOPs that Wisconsin DNR has permission to display on a web map.  Some counties may have newer DOPs.
Since 2004, WisconsinView has made aerial photography and satellite imagery of Wisconsin available to the public for free over the web. As part of the AmericaView consortium, WisconsinView supports access and use of these imagery collections through education, workforce development, and research.

United States Aerial Imagery

National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP)
The National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) acquires aerial imagery during the agricultural growing seasons in the continental U.S. A primary goal of the NAIP program is to make digital ortho photography available to governmental agencies and the public within a year of acquisition. NAIP is administered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) through the Aerial Photography Field Office in Salt Lake City. This "leaf-on" imagery is used as a base layer for GIS programs in FSA's County Service Centers, and is used to maintain the Common Land Unit (CLU) boundaries.

United States Geological Survey Imagery (USGS)
Orthoimagery data typically are high resolution aerial images that combine the visual attributes of an aerial photograph with the spatial accuracy and reliability of a planimetric map. USGS digital orthoimage resolution may vary from 6 inches to 1 meter. The National Map offers free downloads of public domain, 1-meter orthoimagery for the conterminous United States with many urban areas and other locations at 2-foot or finer resolution.

  • USGS Earth Explorer
    Query and order satellite images, aerial photographs, and cartographic products through the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • EROS Data Center
    US agency which collects and processes satellite images. EROS has a variety of data sets, and includes information on documentation, image browsing (depending upon the data set), and ordering services.