Mapping the California Drought with Open Data

Caitlin Dempsey


The U.S. Geological Survey’s Center for Integrated Data Analytics (CIDA) has created an open source visual description of California’s ongoing drought using free and publicly accessible GIS data sources.  

Noting that many state, federal, and tribal agencies make routine observations of the water cycle, the USGS developed this graphic to visualize the effect of this current and severe drought on rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs.


To see the presentation, use your computer’s mouse to scroll down past the introductory message.  Each scroll of the mouse steps through different data stories about the drought and includes a button that links to the open data source. Data covering snowpack levels, stream and river levels, groundwater withdrawals, and reservoir levels are all discussed in this presentation.  According to the USGS, all data, methods, tools, and code used to create this are open and available on Github.

Visit: California drought, visualized with open data

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.