US NED Topographic Diversity

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aspect csp elevation ergo geophysical landforms slope topography us


Topographic diversity (D) is a surrogate variable that represents the variety of temperature and moisture conditions available to species as local habitats. It expresses the logic that a higher variety of topo-climate niches should support higher diversity (especially plant) and support species persistence given climatic change.

To calculate D, the multi-scale Topographic Position Index (mTPI), being a dominant control of soil moisture (T), was used for measuring hillslope position. The mTPI was combined with the square-root transform for mTPI>0 (T') and with the standard deviation of the Continuous Heat-Insolation Load Index (CHILI), calculated at multiple scales (C') as: D = 1 - ((1-T') * (1-C'). It is based on the USGS's 10m NED DEM (available in EE as USGS/NED).

The Conservation Science Partners (CSP) Ecologically Relevant Geomorphology (ERGo) Datasets, Landforms and Physiography contain detailed, multi-scale data on landforms and physiographic (aka land facet) patterns. Although there are many potential uses of these data, the original purpose for these data was to develop an ecologically relevant classification and map of landforms and physiographic classes that are suitable for climate adaptation planning. Because there is large uncertainty associated with future climate conditions and even more uncertainty around ecological responses, providing information about what is unlikely to change offers a strong foundation for managers to build robust climate adaptation plans. The quantification of these features of the landscape is sensitive to the resolution, so we provide the highest resolution possible given the extent and characteristics of a given index.


90 meters


Name Min Max Description
constant 0* 1*

NED-derived topographic diversity

* estimated min or max value

Terms of Use

Terms of Use



  • Theobald, D. M., Harrison-Atlas, D., Monahan, W. B., & Albano, C. M. (2015). Ecologically-relevant maps of landforms and physiographic diversity for climate adaptation planning. PloS one, 10(12), e0143619

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Code Editor (JavaScript)

var dataset = ee.Image('CSP/ERGo/1_0/US/topoDiversity');
var usTopographicDiversity ='constant');
var usTopographicDiversityVis = {
  min: 0.0,
  max: 1.0,
Map.setCenter(-111.313, 39.724, 6);
    usTopographicDiversity, usTopographicDiversityVis,
    'US Topographic Diversity');
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