LiDAR Data

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Looking for elevation data (contours or elevation models)? Go to our Elevation Data page.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a type of remote sensing. It works like radar except it uses light or laser beams instead of radio waves. The time it takes for the laser to travel from the sensor (often mounted on a plane or helicopter) to the surface and back is used to calculate the distance to an object. Those pulses can penetrate non-solid surfaces (e.g.: forest canopy) and the resulting data appears as a point cloud.

LiDAR can be used to provide highly accurate elevation data. The data is collected as points with x, y & z values and these points can be used to create digital elevation models often in GeoTIF/TIFF format. LiDAR data is often in LAS format and may also be in overlapping ground and non-ground files, with the non-ground file showing surface features such as buildings, bridges, and trees.

Below is a list of LiDAR datasets by geography, beginning with Ottawa-Gatineau and moving up to the entire world. Those available only to Carleton students, faculty, and staff are marked with a Carleton logo. All others are freely available to anyone.

LiDAR data for Ottawa-Gatineau | Ontario | Canada | USA


Ontario Resource available to Carleton University students, faculty and staff only

All of the LiDAR collections in this section are subject to the following workflow for Carleton users. Please allow 1-2 weeks from initial request to data delivery

  1. Sign our GIS Data Use Agreement.
  2. Send us ( a zipped shapefile of your area of interest and which LiDAR collection you are requesting, including Raw or Classified, and schedule a time to drop off a hard drive with sufficient space for the data.
  3. We will send your shapefile to Scholars GeoPortal staff who will clip the requested dataset.
  4. Once the clip has been completed and uploaded to a secure server, we will download the data to the hard drive provided and contact you once the download is complete.


Free & Open LiDAR Data Sources in Canada is a great place to start, as is searching Canada's open data portal.

United States of America

  • The United States Geological Survey (USGS) may have LiDAR point clouds available for your area
Content last reviewed: August 20, 2018