I am looking for a tool to sketch changes to Earth. It should start with a geoid or an Earth model, rise/lower/flood selected areas. "Heal" boardersk: if an island is added in an ocean height shouldn't abruptly change from 0 $m$ to $-$1000 $m$. It should also measure distances between points, allow labeling and export maps of selected images as raster graphics (jpg image).

So far I could do two things:

  1. Start with Google Earth, prepare necessary shapes using flooding, paste results as layers in Gimp/Photoshop [fast and ugly]
  2. Import data in Matlab, define rules for modified regions, export [manual rule definitions is slow, no way to smart select, drag and drop regions]

What is the standard approach to do this? For instance, how people display flood plains, draft a channel or a new island project?

Windows/Mac/Linux/doesn't_matter? Windows preferred, Linux is OK. GUI or also command line? GUI, or GUI+CLI batching. CLI only is undesired. Go you want to use a GIS? I didn't know about GIS. Looking into in.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you specify: Windows/Mac/Linux/doesn't_matter; GUI or also command line? Are you familiar with command line tools and netCDF files? You want some generic solution and don't want to use a GIS? If the usage of a GIS is fine, I would suggest to ask the question at GIS.SE. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2017 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ What I would do (since I don't have GIS experience): (a) download a land elevation data set as netCDF file (e.g. a global product like GMTED2010) and (b) plot only data with an elevation above X m elevation (X m is my water level rise). However, this approach is not necessarily correct because humans build stuff like dikes ... . For the plotting I would use a tool/language of my choice: GMT or R. Processing of the netCDF file could be done via cdo. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2017 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ My suggestion includes a lot of hand work! Therefore, I post it only as a comment and not as an answer. Adding islands etc. I would do in R oder Python. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2017 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


The most common software for creating and modifying maps is ArcGIS (commercial but you can get free trial for a month) or QGIS (open source).

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    $\begingroup$ Could you specify how it works in ArcGIS (particularly, if and which toolboxes are needed) or QGIS? $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2017 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I was afraid of "we don't recommend software" responses. $\endgroup$
    – Stepan
    Dec 14, 2017 at 15:21

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