VDatum stands for Vertical Datum Transformation, an innovative and evolving software tool under development by NOAA's National Ocean Service. Free to the public, VDatum's primary purpose is to convert elevation data from various sources into a common reference system.
A common reference system is important because irregularities can occur when maps and charts are created from different data sources. In a coastal area, for example, a shift in elevation on a gently sloping beach may change the overall depiction of the shoreline.
VDatum's capabilities to transform and fuse diverse elevation data benefits coastal applications including inundation modeling (e.g., storm surge, tsunami, sea-level rise impacts), ecosystem management and coastal planning, hydrographic surveying using Kinematic GPS for vertical referencing, and shoreline delineation from LiDAR data.
VDatum coverage will be complete in all coastal regions of the U.S. by 2011, and in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific territories thereafter. The goal is to develop a VDatum utility throughout the country that will foster more effective sharing of elevation data and, eventually, to link such data through national databases.
VDatum is written for use solely within the United States and its territories. NOAA's National Geodetic Survey, Office of Coast Survey, and Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services are the joint developers of VDatum software.
Original article: What is VDatum?