Archive for Category: "Water"

Drop on the planet: 3 visualizations of Earth’s most precious natural resource

Drop on the planet: 3 visualizations of Earth’s most precious natural resource

Scarcity of freshwater is a defining feature of the American West, and planet Earth. Nearly 97% of the world’s H2O is in the oceans. More than two-thirds of the globe’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Below are a trio of graphics to visualize water on Earth. I’ve found these slides useful […]

Plotting “dead pool” and other watersheds for Lake Powell and Lake Mead

Plotting “dead pool” and other watersheds for Lake Powell and Lake Mead

The elevations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, two critical reservoirs on the Colorado River, are like the Dow and S&P 500 for water in the Southwest. These closely watched metrics serve as simple barometers and summaries of how things are going in a fiendishly complex system, be it the U.S. economy or a watershed […]

Streamer tool traces rivers from sources to sea

Streamer tool traces rivers from sources to sea

The National Atlas has a new feature, Streamer, that lets you trace the flow of any U.S. stream or river, either going upstream to the sources or downstream to the sea. Below are a couple of screenshots from the tool (click to enlarge). I picked a point near the EcoWest compound in Denver, along Clear […]

An interactive map of water risk and stress

An interactive map of water risk and stress

The World Resources Institute has developed Aqueduct, an interactive mapping tool that offers a fascinating look at water-related risks and stresses, including projected impacts due to climate change. Using global data donated by Coca-Cola, one of several heavyweight corporate partners (Goldman Sachs and General Electric founded the Aqueduct Alliance), WRI has analyzed and visualized a […]

Visualizing Colorado River challenges and options

Visualizing Colorado River challenges and options

The Colorado River, lifeblood of the Southwest, is in trouble. Demand for river water is rising as the region’s population continues to grow, but the Colorado’s inherently capricious supply is increasingly in doubt due to climate change. A federal report released in December took an exhaustive look at the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin […]

Flow diagrams of U.S. and Western water use

Flow diagrams of U.S. and Western water use

Americans use an average of 410 billion gallons of water per day. Where does all that water come from and where does it go? Flow diagrams from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provide excellent summaries of the nation’s water use. These graphics, also known as Sankey diagrams, show how much we pump from groundwater aquifers, […]

A dashboard for monitoring drought

A dashboard for monitoring drought

Aside from the Pacific Northwest, nearly all of the land west of the 100th Meridian is currently drier than normal. The drought has been especially severe in the nation’s midsection, where some areas are suffering through “exceptional” conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. To track drought severity, I’ve created a dashboard on this page […]

Survey says: water bills are rising

Survey says: water bills are rising

In the West and around the nation, the price of water keeps going up. Since 2010, Circle of Blue has been gathering water rate data in the 20 largest U.S. cities, plus 10 regionally representative cities. From 2011 to 2012, single-family residential water prices rose an average of 7.3 percent; since 2010, the increase is […]

2012 Graphics Highlights from The New York Times

2012 Graphics Highlights from The New York Times

The New York Times does some of the best data visualization in journalism and the paper has assembled highlights of its 2012 work. A few of these graphics relate to Western environmental issues and some are accompanied by descriptions of how they were created. Here are my favorites:   1) The drought’s footprint Brilliant use […]