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Sun Jun 30, 2013, 10:56 AM

Infographic: An Astounding Map of Every River in America

BY LIZ STINSON



Nelson Minar didn’t really mean to create a piece of art. When the California-based software engineer began working on All Rivers, a gorgeously detailed look at the waterways in the 48 contiguous states, it was really just a practice in computer nerdery. Minar, a self-described “computer nerd at heart,” simply wanted to create a vector map (a map consisting of Geographic Information System data) using open source data. “The single All Rivers map was just me goofing around to see what it’d look like,” he told Wired.

It looks pretty cool. Inspired by Ben Fry’s All Streets poster, Minar’s version shows a vast web of blue veins spreading across the United States. River-rich areas like Mississippi are dense with blue, but more surprisingly, so are notoriously dry areas like Nevada and Arizona.

To create All Rivers, first Minar gathered information from NHDPlus (National Hydrography Dataset) and put it in a database. He extracted the Strahler number, a measure of how significant a creek is, to determine how large the rivers would appear on the map. From there he built a web server that would allow him to serve the flowline data as vector map tiles, and finally he wrote a JavaScript program that did most of the cartography work for him.

Minar kept All Rivers pretty simple, using only the Strahler number as a variable. But he says it’s possible to gather more information to include on future maps. “To be a useful hydrography map, it should have information on river volume, size, seasonality, etc,” he said. “That’s a lot of data to cram into a single picture. I don’t know how to do that and make it look good.”

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http://www.wired.com/design/2013/06/infographic-this-detailed-map-shows-every-river-in-the-united-states/

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Reply Infographic: An Astounding Map of Every River in America (Original post)
n2doc Jun 2013 OP
ellenfl Jun 2013 #1
Zorro Jun 2013 #2
ellenfl Jun 2013 #3
TheMadMonk Jul 2013 #10
Warpy Jun 2013 #4
JayhawkSD Jul 2013 #6
AnotherMcIntosh Jul 2013 #5
toby jo Jul 2013 #8
oldandhappy Jul 2013 #7
pam4water Jul 2013 #9

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 12:23 PM

1. what happened to south florida? eom

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Response to ellenfl (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 12:32 PM

2. It's pretty much all Everglades swampland

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Response to Zorro (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 01:04 PM

3. we have rivers of grass! it should be all blue. they don't even count the loxahatchee!

if it was all swamp land, we wouldn't have such massive development. we only have one desalinization plant. our aquifers have to produce SOME waterways.

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Response to ellenfl (Reply #3)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 10:06 PM

10. What you are looking at it a TOPOGRAPHICAL map.

 

It's where water would flow if there were water to flow.

Clearly there's some sort of minimal slope thing happening, or the whole map would be solid blue with a scattering of high points. Obviously the everglades are flatter than that.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 01:27 PM

4. Most rivers out west are bone dry

except for a couple of weeks during the snow melt and another couple of weeks during the summer when they carry monsoonal rainfall.

It becomes automatic out here when you need to cross one to look up and make sure there are no thunderheads over any of the mountains. Six inches of rapidly moving flash flood water will take a car. I've seen the most remarkable things in the arroyos in town: refrigerators, garden sheds...

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:27 PM

6. Amusing story about that

 

Some years ago a somewhat distand relative was visiting Tucson for the forst time. I picker her up at the airport and as we were driving home casually mentioned that we were about to cross the Rillito River. She said, "Oh good, I'm looking forward to seeing it> I was looking for it from the airplane as we came in, but never spotted it." She added something about how on the map it looked like a pretty big river.

So, as we cross this 300-yard-wide dry wash, she looks at me and goes, "That's it?" Yep. I explained about the Sonora Desert thing, and added, that "notwithstanding what you see there, every year someone drowns in that river." She decided that my branch of the family was nuts.

That very night we're watching the news and the anchor says, "Breaking news, couple drowns in the Rillito River. Coming up after the break." She goes, "What?" and starts checking the VHS player to see if this is some sort of joke that I am playing on her.


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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 09:39 AM

5. It looks like parts of Texas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are good places to stay away from.

 

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #5)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 05:01 PM

8. Drier than even the Mojave, in CA & NV.

 

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 05:19 PM

7. That is beautiful.

Who knew a map of rivers would be a piece of art, smile.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 08:11 PM

9. I play around with vectors in Open Source Inkscape. That must have take so much work to make.

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