NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information

Background Maps (WMS)

Background Maps (Web Map Services) is the third tab in the Overlay Selector. To learn how to bring up the Overlay Selector, review the Overlay Selector tutorial.

Background Maps (Web Map Services) or WMS for short is a feature that gathers unique maps from the internet and places them in the viewer based upon the location the viewer is zoomed to and the zoom level. Maps include: ESRI Street Maps, NASA Blue Marble, ESRI Global Map, various USGS maps, and more.

The WMS feature requires a live connection to the internet


There are three background map selections in the WMS tab: Background 1, 2 and 3. These 3 background layers allow different maps to be layered to form a single background image. 'Background 1' will be drawn first, while 'Background 3' will be drawn last. For example, USGS Shaded Relief could be selected as Background 1, with ESRI Roads as Background 2 and Watersheds (HUCs) as Background 3, shown in the image below.

WMS Example

To toggle the currently selected WMS map to black/white check or un-check the B/W checkbox.

The Auto-Refresh checkbox (checked by default) allows the WMS service to download the most current map when the viewer has been moved or zoomed. Refresh is the manual way of accomplishing the same task.

In the Overlays section you can hide all overlays by clicking the Hide, to show the default overlays again click Default.