Spatial Data Platform

RMBL is developing a set of standardized, citable, high-quality spatial datasets to accelerate scientific discovery in ecology, hydrology, and geophysics. This effort began in the fall of 2019 with a user survey, and we are pushing to release the first round of data products in Spring 2020.

This page contains background information about the Spatial Data Platform, links to the planning documents that are guiding our work, tutorial materials to help scientists and students utilize the data, and links to the datasets listed in RMBL’s data catalog.

Place in the World Illustration

Planning the SDP

In the winter of 2019 – 2020, RMBL sent out a detailed survey on the needs of RMBL scientists for spatial data. Forty-three scientists from all different career stages responded to the survey, giving detailed feedback on proposed data products, as well as their forms, formats, and uses. Results from the survey are summarized here.

RMBL staff relied heavily on the community survey to develop an implementation plan for the SDP, the first version of which was released in March 2020. The implementation plan details the proposed data products, their forms and formats, the process for producing them, and a strategy for updating and disseminating them. Version 1 of the implementation plan is available here.

Finding and Accessing Datasets

Published SDP data products and detailed metadata can be found in RMBL’s data catalog. The catalog links to datasets that are stored on the Amazon S3 file sharing service. To download a complete list of SDP data products with their direct links, click here.

We will package data products for archiving, along with the source code and documentation, in the ESS-DIVE data repository. This means that data products will be granted a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) which makes them formally citeable.

Networks of collaborators can help to shape data products and be granted access to draft data products before they are released in exchange for assisting RMBL staff with producing them. If you would like to be involved in collaborations surrounding particular products, please contact Ian Breckheimer (

Training and Education

You can learn more about the SDP and gain skills for taking advantage of the data by joining our Spatial Data Science Webinar Series, a set of 90-minute live sessions on the Zoom platform accompanied by training materials and other resources. These webinars, offered free of charge from September 2020 to April 2021, are focused on fundamental spatial analysis skills for taking advantage of the SDP, as well as highlighting applications for advancing field research.

To sign up to receive additional webinar details, including instructions on how to join, as well as updates, recordings, and supplemental materials, please fill out the form at this link.

The schedule for the Spatial Data Science Webinar Series is below:

Tuesday September 22nd 2020
Introduction to the RMBL Spatial Data Platform,
How to access RMBL SDP data in GIS and
programming environments, and where we are
going with the platform.

Tuesday October 20th 2020 Designing Robust
Field Studies using Geospatial Tools,
How to optimize site selection using GIS and

Tuesday January 26th, 2021 Successful
UAV Data Collection in Mountain Environments
How to design and execute UAV flights for
high-quality scientific data in challenging

Tuesday February 23rd, 2021 Leveraging
Point Cloud Data from Lidar and UAV
Mapping vegetation structure and function
using 3D data from lidar and drones.

Tuesday March 23rd, 2021 Linking Field
Data with Remote Sensing for Spatial Prediction
How to leverage high-resolution remote
sensing from imaging spectroscopy and lidar
to map species, traits, and processes.

Tuesday April 20th, 2021 What’s New in the
RMBL Spatial Data Platform
Introduction to new snow and phenology
datasets that form part of the SDP Release 2
and Release 3.

Documentation and Source Code

Detailed documentation and source code for the SDP data products can be found in our GitHub repository.

Incorporating Feedback

We are constantly soliciting informal feedback from collaborators and users on the SDP data products. If you have a question, or identify an issue with one of the datasets, please contact Ian Breckheimer (