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Using WMS services in R

How to use WMS (raster) GIS services within R scripts

WMS stands for Web Map Service. The service provides prerendered tiles at different scales. This makes it useful to include them as background images in maps.

We will use the leaflet package to make interactive maps.

library(leaflet)

First, we define some WMS URLs for Flanders and Belgium to play with:

# Flanders:
wms_grb <- "https://geoservices.informatievlaanderen.be/raadpleegdiensten/GRB-basiskaart/wms"
wms_ortho <- "https://geoservices.informatievlaanderen.be/raadpleegdiensten/OMWRGBMRVL/wms"
wms_inbo <- "https://geoservices.informatievlaanderen.be/raadpleegdiensten/INBO/wms"
wms_hunting <- "https://geoservices.informatievlaanderen.be/raadpleegdiensten/Jacht/wms"
# Belgium:
wms_cartoweb_be <- "https://cartoweb.wms.ngi.be/service"
wms_ortho_be <- "https://wms.ngi.be/inspire/ortho/service"

In the WFS tutorial, we present a handy overview of websites with WMS (and WFS) services.

Simple maps

WMS layers can be added to a leaflet map using the addWMSTiles() function.

It is required to define the map view with setView(), by providing a map center (as longitude and latitude coordinates) and a zoom level.

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 15) %>%
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_grb,
    layers = "GRB_BSK",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE)
  )

Leaflet map with the GRB-basiskaart asbackground

Note: run the code to see this and the following interactive maps.

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 15) %>% 
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_ortho,
    layers = "Ortho",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE)
  )

Leaflet map with the orthophoto mosaic asbackground

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 15) %>% 
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_inbo,
    layers = "PNVeg",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE)
  )

Leaflet map with the potential naturalvegetation

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 15) %>% 
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_cartoweb_be,
    layers = "topo",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png")
  )

Leaflet map of the topographic CartoWeb layer. At zoom level15.

Setting another zoom level of the CartoWeb service triggers the display of another topographic map. Of course you can do that interactively with the above map (not supported on this web site though).

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 12) %>% 
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_cartoweb_be,
    layers = "topo",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png")
  )

Leaflet map of the topographic CartoWeb layer. At zoom level12.

Combining multiple layers

Below, we also add OpenStreetMap in the background.

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 14) %>% 
  addTiles(group = "OSM") %>%
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_hunting,
    layers = "Jachtterr",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE)
  )

Leaflet map of hunting grounds with the OpenStreetMap in thebackground

By adding addWMSTiles() multiple times, several WMSs can be displayed on top of each other.

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 14) %>% 
  addTiles(group = "OSM") %>%
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_grb,
    layers = "GRB_BSK",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE),
    group = "GRB"
  ) %>%
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_hunting,
    layers = "Jachtterr",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE),
    group = "hunting<br>grounds"
  ) %>%
  addLayersControl(
    baseGroups = "OSM",
    overlayGroups = c("GRB", "hunting<br>grounds"),
    options = layersControlOptions(collapsed = FALSE)
  )

Leaflet map with the GRB-basiskaart, hunting ground and theOpenStreetMap (OSM) asbackground

The overlay layer of the NGI CartoWeb service is aimed at higher zoom levels and is useful to put on top of a map. Here we take the NGI orthophoto service as a background map. We must set the overlay layer transparent in order to see the layers below – the default option being transparent = FALSE.

leaflet() %>% 
  setView(lng = 4.287638, lat = 50.703039, zoom = 16) %>% 
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_ortho_be,
    layers = "orthoimage_coverage",
    group = "Orthophoto BE") %>%
  addWMSTiles(
    wms_cartoweb_be,
    layers = "overlay",
    options = WMSTileOptions(format = "image/png", transparent = TRUE),
    group = "Topo BE"
  ) %>%
  addLayersControl(
    baseGroups = "Orthophoto BE",
    overlayGroups = "Topo BE"
  )

Leaflet map with the Belgian orthophoto mosaic as background and atopographic overlay ontop