Functions to Automate Downloading Geospatial Data Available from Several Federated Data Sources

Functions to automate downloading geospatial data available from several federated data sources (mainly sources maintained by the US Federal government). Currently, the package enables extraction from six datasets: The National Elevation Dataset digital elevation models (1 and 1/3 arc-second; USGS); The National Hydrography Dataset (USGS); The Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database from the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS), which is led by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) under the USDA; the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), coordinated by National Climatic Data Center at NOAA; the Daymet gridded estimates of daily weather parameters for North America, version 3, available from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC); and the International Tree Ring Data Bank.

FedData is an R package implementing functions to automate downloading geospatial data available from several federated data sources (mainly sources maintained by the US Federal government). Currently, the package allows for retrieval of five datasets:

Additional data sources are in the works, including global DEM resources (ETOPO1, STRM), global soils (HWSD), MODIS satellite data products, the National Atlas (US only), Natural Earth, and WorldClim.

This package is designed with the large-scale geographic information system (GIS) use-case in mind: cases where the use of dynamic web-services is impractical due to the scale (spatial and/or temporal) of analysis. It functions primarily as a means of downloading tiled or otherwise spatially-defined datasets; additionally, it can preprocess those datasets by extracting data within an area of interest (AoI), defined spatially. It relies heavily on the sp, raster, and rgdal packages.

This package has been built and tested on a source (Homebrew) install of R on Mac OS 10.12 (Sierra), and has been successfully run on Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS and binary installs of R on Mac OS 10.12 and Windows 10.

  • CRAN:
  • Development version from GitHub:

This demo script is available in the /inst folder at the location of the installed package.

# FedData Tester
# Set a directory for testing
testDir <- "~/FedData Test"
# and create it if necessary
dir.create(testDir, showWarnings=F, recursive=T)
# Extract data for the Village Ecodynamics Project "VEPIIN" study area:
vepPolygon <- polygon_from_extent(raster::extent(672800,740000,4102000,4170000),
                                  proj4string="+proj=utm +datum=NAD83 +zone=12")
# Get the NED (USA ONLY)
# Returns a raster
NED <- get_ned(template=vepPolygon,
# Plot with raster::plot

# Get the DAYMET (North America only)
# Returns a raster
DAYMET <- get_daymet(template=vepPolygon,
               elements = c("prcp","tmax"),
               years = 1980:1985)
# Plot with raster::plot

# Get the daily GHCN data (GLOBAL)
# Returns a list: the first element is the spatial locations of stations,
# and the second is a list of the stations and their daily data
GHCN.prcp <- get_ghcn_daily(template=vepPolygon, 
# Plot the NED again
# Plot the spatial locations
sp::plot(GHCN.prcp$spatial, pch=1, add=T)
legend('bottomleft', pch=1, legend="GHCN Precipitation Records")

# Elements for which you require the same data
# (i.e., minimum and maximum temperature for the same days)
# can be standardized using standardize==T
GHCN.temp <- get_ghcn_daily(template = vepPolygon, 
                            label = "VEPIIN", 
                            elements = c('tmin','tmax'), 
                            years = 1980:1985,
                            standardize = T)
# Plot the NED again
# Plot the spatial locations
sp::plot(GHCN.temp$spatial, add=T, pch=1)
legend('bottomleft', pch=1, legend="GHCN Temperature Records")

# Get the NHD (USA ONLY)
NHD <- get_nhd(template=vepPolygon, 
# Plot the NED again
# Plot the NHD data
NHD %>%
  lapply(sp::plot, col='black', add=T)

# Get the NRCS SSURGO data (USA ONLY)
SSURGO.VEPIIN <- get_ssurgo(template=vepPolygon, 
# Plot the NED again
# Plot the SSURGO mapunit polygons

# Or, download by Soil Survey Area names
SSURGO.areas <- get_ssurgo(template=c("CO670","CO075"), 
# Let's just look at spatial data for CO675
SSURGO.areas.CO675 <- SSURGO.areas$spatial[SSURGO.areas$spatial$AREASYMBOL=="CO075",]
# And get the NED data under them for pretty plotting
NED.CO675 <- get_ned(template=SSURGO.areas.CO675,
# Plot the SSURGO mapunit polygons, but only for CO675

# Get the ITRDB records
ITRDB <- get_itrdb(template=vepPolygon,
# Plot the NED again
# Map the locations of the tree ring chronologies
plot(ITRDB$metadata, pch=1, add=T)
legend('bottomleft', pch=1, legend="ITRDB chronologies")

This package is a product of SKOPE (Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments) and the Village Ecodynamics Project. This software is licensed under the MIT license.


Reference manual

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2.4.5 by R. Kyle Bocinsky, a month ago

Report a bug at

Browse source code at

Authors: R. Kyle Bocinsky [aut, cre], Dylan Beaudette [ctb], Scott Chamberlain [ctb]

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

MIT + file LICENSE license

Imports data.table, devtools, soilDB, igraph, curl, methods, rgdal, raster, Hmisc, rgeos, readr, lubridate, dplyr, magrittr, foreach, doParallel, ncdf4

Depends on sp

Suggests testthat, covr, roxygen2

See at CRAN