NOAA Shoreline Website

A Guide to National Shoreline Data and Terms

NOAA Continually Updated Shoreline Product (CUSP)

Data Access


Purpose and Potential Applications: This data set was created to deliver continuous shoreline with frequent updates to support various GIS applications including coastal and marine spatial planning, tsunami and storm surge modeling, hazard delineation and mitigation, environmental studies and may assist in nautical chart updates.

Originator(s):National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey (NGS)

Abstract: NOAA’s Continually Updated Shoreline includes all national shoreline that has been verified by contemporary imagery and shoreline from other non-NOAA sources. This shoreline vector only includes shoreline and alongshore features that represent shoreline (groin, breakwater, and jetty).

Access: NOAA Continually Updated Shoreline Product (CUSP)

Scale(s): 1:1,000 – 1:24,000

Coverage: Continental U.S, with portions of Hawaii, Pacific Islands, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Source Data: National Shoreline vectors and non-NOAA sources including lidar, imagery and shoreline vectors.

Spatial Reference: Geographic coordinate system (decimal degrees); Horizontal Datum – North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83)

Tidal Datum: Where applicable, CUSP will reference a mean-high water shoreline based on vertical modeling or image interpretation using both water level stations and/or shoreline indicators.

Data Format: ESRI shapefile. Shoreline data is distributed as a nationally seamless polyline.

Accuracy:Variable depending on source. This shoreline is not to be used for legal purpose since it includes shoreline compilation with less stringent data acquisition requirements and quality control measures as compared to the National shoreline.

Process Description: Individual national shoreline projects and high-resolution LiDAR-derived shoreline were merged to form the framework of this product. Individual projects are edge matched using contemporary imagery as a guide. Single-line alongshore features and alongshore features where water passes underneath are not included in in this shoreline data set. The current attributes include source id, data source, horizontal accuracy, information field, attribute name, image verification date, source resolution, data source, extraction method (mono versus stereo), and source citation. The shoreline will be updated without regard to maintaining versions.

Limited shoreline updates to existing vectors may be edited using verification imagery when the vectors and the imagery register well together, or when the updated vectors can be shifted to existing accurate vectors. Once verification imagery meets the accuracy criteria stated above, the decision to compile features is based on the ability to extract a proxy mean high water line considering water level, image date, resolution, accuracy, and shoreline slope. New shoreline compilation from contemporary commercial satellite and othomosaic imagery may be used to compile new shoreline based on those same considerations.

CUSP shoreline emphasizes the most current temporal positioning versus the most accurately acquired data. The mapping of the most current temporal positioning of the proxy mean high water for this product excludes the effects of seasonal (summer versus winter beaches) and storm response (northeasters and hurricanes) on spatial variability of beach morphology.

Point of Contact:
Doug Graham
NOAA National Geodetic Survey

Other References: