Visualizing Time Series E.Coli in the Blue River Watershed

By Scott Malone

Previously I provided a glimpse into the world of data management and the various challenges associated with formatting and managing geospatial data. After explaining the process of data management and customization in my last post, let’s review my experience with creating a time series animation.

KCWaterBug Main Legend

KCWaterBug Main Legend

My animation, as I mentioned previously  started with data.  I used the modeled E Coli measurements as an overall indicator of each site’s water quality.  Remember that modeled E Coli readings occur every fifteen minutes and I used a four month time period which meant more than 700,000 readings all together!   Attempting to symbolize every reading within the animation would have been a classic case of too much information. With this in mind, I decided to use the daily maximum value of the modeled E Coli readings cutting down the volume of the data while still maintaining a representative of the daily water quality. Visualizing one value per day made the most sense for my time series animation and the observer’s sanity. To distinguish the varying states of water quality I used threshold values pulled from the Water Bug mobile application offered through KCwaters.org as a template.

 You can find out more about Kansas City water quality and how
the KCWaterBug mobile app keeps the public informed here.

 As a background for the time series animation I used a land cover map (2006 NLCD)  in hopes of generally linking the extent of an areas development to stream water quality. Looking at the animation, you can clearly see the stream located almost fully in the heart of the urban core, Brush Creek, has some serious water quality issues.  The two telemetry sites on the stream change from red to yellow only once over the four month time span of the animation. In no way is this a definitive statement about the link between urban development and water quality however it is interesting to note that  streams considered “fringe urban streams” located in less developed areas such as Wolf Creek have a much more diverse range of water quality classifications during the same time period.

 There is more to water quality than rain storms and E. Coli.
Find out about PAHs in Kansas City streams here.

Another interesting trend visible in the time series animation is how E Coli levels follow precipitation events. Using precipitation data from StormWatch.com a Johnson County, Kansas regional weather service I was able to compare date precipitation events with the modeled E Coli. After a rainfall of an inch or so, modeled E Coli levels elevate, often into the red zone indicating a stream with waters unfit for contact (see fig. 1). Within a day or two most of the streams readings return to a safer level. All this is to say it would be safest to give a stream a couple of days after a heavy rainfall before swimming.

 

KCWater Stream Monitors

The stream monitors advise no water contact after a rain event.

Constructing a visually appealing and informative time series animation while not near as trying as the data management side of the project was not without its challenges. All of the classic challenges of constructing a static map combined with the unique trials a time series animation presents made this project a very interesting endeavor. Managing and properly formatting a massive amount of time sensitive data while presenting an understandable and informative final product was a complicated yet rewarding experience. However my course work up to this point was more useful in addressing the problems that arose relating to cartography and typical GIS quirks, as opposed to the data management side of the project which was eye opening.

As I began my internship here at the EPA’s Region 7 I considered myself a competent GIS user during my time here I was exposed to a wide range of “Information” issues that made me if only for a second question that assumption. However as I wrap up this experience I can say with confidence that I have a deeper understanding of the intricacies of data management and map construction. Working on a project intended to provide the public with a greater understanding of water quality issues on a local level was rewarding in its own right on top of which the experience and knowledge I gained will help me as I move forward toward a career. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Casey McLaughlin and all the fine folks here at region 7 for their help this summer and suggest that you take a look at the fruit of my labor.

Scott Malone recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Environmental Studies.  He spent part of summer 2012 as a voluntary intern with the Environmental Services Division where he worked with LiDAR, land cover, and water quality telemetry data.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Maps Begin with Data

By Scott Malone

This summer, I worked with the Environmental Protection Agency, in Lenexa Kansas as a voluntary intern.  I learned that making a time-series map takes more than just getting data and putting it into ArcGIS.  For my summer project, I created a time-series animation of water quality trends using data from the Kansas City Urban Stream Network.

KCwaterbug LogoHosted at KCWaters.org, the project is “dedicated to promoting greater awareness about the quality of water in the Greater Kansas City Area.”  Using data acquired every 15 minutes over a 4 month time period (March 1st through July 10th, 2013) I created an animation showing water quality trends over our wet spring and early summer months.  The process of constructing a visually informative and appealing animation from raw data was full of challenges.  Unlike the canned projects I was accustomed to from my GIS courses in college, this project involved a significant amount of data manipulation before I was able to ever open up an Arcmap project and begin map-making.

Track stream conditions hourly using KCWaterbug.  Find out more.

sondeThe Urban Stream Network consists of eighteen sites spaced across sixteen streams in the Kansas City metro area.  Each site consists of a stream probe and telemetry box which collects readings on water temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and water depth. The readings are transmitted via satellite and compiled into a database using software called WISKI from a company named KISTERSE Coli data is modeled for each stream (you can find out more at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5014/) based on other variables collected by instrumentation.  With readings done every fifteen minutes over four months, I worked with an initial dataset of over 700,000 records grouped by station by each parameter all wrapped into one fun text file.  I definitely experienced the joys of taking data and running through multiple processing steps before enjoying the fruits of my labor in a GIS friendly database.

 

telemtry_table

Not quite formatted for ArcGIS

First, I removed the header information (station name, number, other identifiers) provided for each parameter and converted it into a spreadsheet friendly format.  I painstakingly created a spread sheet for each stream (16, remember), transposed data, added stream names, and added parameter names.  With over 40,000 records for each stream (16, remember) the process was time consuming.  Unfortunately such data processing can become necessary when working from data extracted for purpose different than my own.  Once each stream was standardized, I combined them back together into a GIS usable table.

Adding time, or rather converting time, was another detail that I learned wasn’t always simple.  Of course, creating a time-series map necessitates time stamps that ArcGIS can use for creating a time-aware dataset.

After running through this data manipulation exercise, I now have a much greater understanding of data management.  I completely value having data in databases and extracting it out for an intended purpose.  I also appreciate that the *I* in GIS is there for a very important reason!  My next post will review how I took the telemetry data and started looking for interesting and useful trends.

Scott Malone is a graduate from the University of Kansas with a degree in Environmental Studies.  He spent part of summer 2012 as a voluntary intern with the Environmental Services Division where he worked with LiDAR, land cover, and water quality telemetry data.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Imagining the Earth through Art

By Casey J. McLaughlin

Written descriptions of the earth can be quite informative, but all good Geographers (in my opinion) know and love pictures and maps of the earth.  National Geographic is an incredibly successful example of the visual appeal of our planet.  I am not a huge art connoisseur, but Conversations XIV: Water hosted by the Spencer Art Museum at the University of Kansas had a few pieces that really jumped out at me and that I find relevant to human health and the environment.

The Big Blue Thread is rooted in the idea that the Missouri River ties the four states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) of Region 7 together.  Water is critical for our region’s population and agriculture.  The Spencer Art Museum introduces their water exhibit:

Water is timeless… or is it? This installation of works from the Spencer’s permanent collection explores contemporary artists’ perspectives on the elixir of life: H20. Many of the works assembled for this installation take an eco-critical approach to the subject matter, exploring pollution and scarcity, whereas others address water less literally and more symbolically, as a cleansing or destructive force. From this selection of 20th- and 21st-century works, a subtle visual dialogue emerges between the Kaw River of Kansas and the Yangtze of China.

Maple Tree and Stream

Maple Tree and Stream at the Spencer Art Museum (KU). Credit: Casey J. McLaughlin

Many maps depict water with various shades and hues of blue.  It seems universal from my bubble perspective, but Maple Tree and Stream from the Japanese Edo Time period (1600-1868) reminded me of the swirling muddy waters of the Missouri River. The piece is a folding screen, ink, color, and gold on paper — that’s the description provided by the museum anyway.  I have a personal affinity for nature scenes and I felt an emotional bond to this specific piece given my work with the Big Blue Thread.  Seeing the brown stream reminded me of the swirling waters where rivers meet (Kaw Point) and the green trees of the spring.

Bridge over the Yangtze River. (2001)

Bridge over the Yangtze River (2001). Credit: Casey J. McLaughlin

More poignant to Region 7 and protecting human health and the environment is the exhibit by Chinese artist Chen Zhiyuan, Changjiangg Xingzou—Jingti (Yangtze River Walk – Crystals).  I remember visiting the Yangtze River in graduate school and have studied the river a bit – plus my kids and I love The Story of Ping.  I can hardly imagine the journey that took Chen from Shanghai to Qinghai along the Yangtze River (also known as the Chang Jiang).   For 21 days he walked and drank river water.  At the end of each day he distilled the salt from his intake.  As noted in the Museum’s description, he was hospitalized at the end of his excursion.  The piece was behind some shiny plexiglass so I couldn’t get a good picture with my cell phone.  I was first drawn to the huge wall map with a simple blue stream winding on a white background broken by pictures of each stop he made.  In front of the wall map, Chen has displayed his collection of dark colored salt crystals in glass beakers.

I am unsure where in the museum my appreciation of the art moved into concern for the water quality, but it did.  EPA does a lot with water monitoring and you can find out more from the Big Blue Thread ( PAHs in the Water, What’s in Your Water, and most recently in Gone Fishin).  I really wonder what a trip from the upper reaches of the Missouri to St. Louis would look like both from a naturalist (Lewis and Clark) perspective (can it even be walked?) and from a water quality one.  How many salt crystals or other materials would be distilled every day?  Would 21 days of drinking Missouri River water necessitate hospitalization?

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Rerun of Twister TV

By Jeffery Robichaud

I was saddened just like most of you to see the footage from yesterday’s events in Moore, Oklahoma.  Several years ago I posted this article on EPA’s main Greenversations Blog.  Two years ago our Region experienced our own devastation to the south in Joplin, Missouri.  Tornadoes are serious stuff.  Make sure you and your family are prepared especially if you live east of the Rockies as they can hit most anywhere (great visualization from John Nelson of uxblog.idvsolutions.com).

tornadotracks

EPA has a broad and powerful mission to protect human health and the environment. We often think of this in the context of human impacts on the environment, but sometimes it is the other way around.

In Kansas City, a threat to our well-being rears its head every spring. I could tell it arrived the other night when I flipped on the TV to watch LOST and the screen lit up with red and green splotches over a map. It was storm season again and meteorologists had pre-empted Must-see TV for Twister TV with the fervor of election-night coverage or the latest celebrity car chase.

photo of a home demolished by a twisterIt was our first warning of the season, and my wife and I scooped up the kids and raced down into the basement. The all clear came, but another siren sounded an hour or so later. We repeated the drill (this time with sleeping children) and trudged to bed after another all clear. Not until the morning did we learn that two twisters touched down next to our local drug store. Five years prior a tornado ripped through Kansas City just a mile south of our house (my wife ever the wiser of the pair dragged me inside reminding me that I was now a dad). Sadly this was reinforced two years ago when our good friends lost their home in Springfield, Missouri to a twister. They had a newborn, which, as my friend told me, was the only reason they got off the couch and ran to the closet that saved their life.

Last year (edit: 6 years ago now) was a rough one for natural disasters in our Region. Everyone remembers the devastation that occurred in Greensburg, Kansas. At EPA, we get called in to assist with public health and environmental problems in the aftermath of events like the tornado in Greensburg or the flooding that struck Coffeyville, Kansas. It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of our neighbors, especially the occasional ones who ignored warnings.

Yes, newscasters tend towards exaggeration and embellishment to ensure rapt audiences, but don’t let that overwhelm the importance of heeding the underlying message. Next time you are faced with a flood, fire, hurricane, or tornado warning make sure you get yourself and family to a safe place instead of watching TV. And if anybody in Kansas City needs to know what happened on LOST let me know… I DVR’d the re-broadcast.

 

Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

News Where You Live

By Jeffery Robichaud

Technology and communication have evolved over the past decade to provide consumers with experiences that are personally tailored to them. Facebook feeds can be set to only show items from those folks and groups that interest you. Twitter hashtags, RSS Feeds, Tumblr and Blog feeds all can be tweaked to allow you to consume what you want, when you want it. Google news even uses algorithms based on your history and web searches to share news it thinks you will be interested in reading, while your sibling on the other side of the country might see a whole different set of items based on their own unique web-footprint.

At EPA, part of our responsibility is sharing messages about important items, whether they be public meetings, results of enforcement activities, outreach events, or grant awards.  Traditionally these are shared via news release like last week’s Earth Day event in Kansas City (you can visit EPA’s news room here).

We also have our own Region 7 specific newsroom, however we have taken it one step further. Even though our Region only consists of four States, it stretches over 1,100 miles from the Oglala National Grassland in northwest Nebraska to the Bootheel of southeast Missouri, a nearly 20-hour drive. Environmental News related to Garden City, Kansas might not be as germane to folks living in Decorah Iowa (and vice versa). So several years ago our Public Affairs and GIS folks got together to develop a quick and dirty web map called News Where You Live that allows citizens to view news releases based on geography, not just date, or category. It is starting to show its age a bit given all of the new advances in web mapping, but it still does its job well reinforcing that old adage, if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it.


So check us out.  And remember you can add the Big Blue Thread’s RSS Feed to get your daily dose (well more like twice a week) of environmental information from the heartland.

Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  His 15 minutes of fame may be over with his face already having graced newsprint from coverage of a first grade production of ‘Stone Soup’.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

NEPAssist: One of EPA’s Newest Geospatial Tools

By Amber Tucker

Hi all, this is my first attempt at the blogging world, so please bear with me.  I initially started out intending to major in Journalism so maybe this won’t be as mighty of a feat as I’ve imagined it to be.  Even though I still do enjoy journaling in my personal time, my passion for career choice took a turn in my second semester of college.  It was in a requisite biology course that I took greater notice of and fell in love with wildlife, nature, and the great outdoors.  This led to a change in majors to Environmental Science which in turn, led me to the most amazing workplace I never dreamt I would get to be a part of; EPA.  Since day one, I’ve never stopped learning, and along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of being exposed to and able to utilize some of the most progressive scientific advances.

I think we can all agree that technology is pretty amazing these days; through the remarkable technology of public GIS platforms like Google Earth, you have the ability to essentially tour the world from the comfort of your own living room.  In the words of the late, great Dr. Seuss…”Oh the places you’ll go.”  Well, if you’re like me, with the world at your fingertips and the possibilities endless, the first place you decide to visit…an aerial view of your own home.  Exotic destination, no doubt.  However, there’s certainly some value in checking out your own neighborhood from a different point of view.  It’s good to know what all encompasses your surrounding areas.  You may discover things you never knew about the places you see every day.

EPA has rolled out some new technology that allows you to do just that; spatially discover the world around you, from an environmental perspective. Previously only accessible to EPA employees and contractors, NEPAssist is now available to everyone wanting to take a look at environmental factors and conditions in any given area throughout the country.  A web-based mapping tool, NEPAssist is designed to help promote collaboration and early involvement in the NEPA process by allowing the user to raise and identify important environmental issues at the earliest stages of project development.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 requires all federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary process. NEPAssist is designed to help promote collaboration and early involvement in the NEPA process by raising important environmental issues at the primary stages of project development. The mapping tool can be used by Federal agencies to identify alternative project locations, to avoid and minimize impacts, as well as identify potential mitigation areas. It’s a tool that can also help citizens to be aware of and involved in environmental decisions that affect their community.

NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development. There’s information on regulated facilities, demographics, water features, historic places, threatened & endangered species, wetlands, and so much more! You can trust me on this, or you can check it out for yourself (even though I assure you I’m trustworthy, I’d go with the latter).

The thought behind this is that NEPAssist could serve as an essential “one-stop shop” to garner environmental information for your desired vicinity.  NEPAssist also houses EJView data, formerly known as the Environmental Justice Geographic Assessment Tool, which is a mapping tool that allows users to create maps and generate detailed reports based on the geographic areas and data sets they choose.  Similar to the likes of Google Maps or Bing Maps, NEPAssist offers a variety of viewing options; Road, Aerial, and in some of the more urban areas, Birds Eye view.  I have to admit, the clarity and close-up image that Birds Eye view affords simultaneously amazes and freaks me out a little; I think I can see my dad’s pickup truck parked in my driveway!


A really cool feature of NEPAssist is the ability for you to define an area and then generate a detailed environmental report for that area. Using this tool, you can draw a point, line, area, or rectangle. You can also specify a buffer area radius for which the report will be generated. Draw your desired area, hit the NEPAssist Report button, and voila! You have yourself an environmental snapshot report. Information in the report will be displayed as a series of questions with yes or no answers based on the location of your project area. Click on a hyperlinked question to view the data source and associated metadata. All of this data, historical and current, available to you with just the push of a button.


This is the same primary and first-line tool we at EPA use to evaluate projects and generate comments. To access this tool and to learn more about NEPAssist and how it can aid you in your NEPA work, please visit the public NEPAssist website at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/nepassist-mapping.html.  Here you will also find a link to a NEPAssist Demonstration Webinar, as well as other NEPAssist user resources.  EPA is continually striving to enhance the NEPAssist tool to facilitate more efficient and effective federal environmental reviews and project planning.

Pretty neat, right?  I’m all about making well-informed decisions and I appreciate that NEPAssist allows me to become more aware of the environmental conditions and features in my backyard, my neighborhood, my community, my state, and my nation. Today, my cul-de-sac. Tomorrow, the world! Check out our NEPAssist page and create your own environmental knowledge quest.

Amber Tucker is an Environmental Scientist who serves as a NEPA reviewer for EPA Region 7.  She is a graduate of Haskell University and serves as Region 7’s Special Emphasis Program Manager for Native American Employment Programs.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Snow Is Here (Somewhere, Sometime)

By Casey J. McLaughlin

Several weeks ago, I reviewed drought data for the summer and thought about how it compared to previous years; work got busy and I never finished the piece (and it rained).  This weekend I saw pictures of my cousin’s new snow dragon (snowmen may be over-rated)!  I keep telling my kids, “Winter is Coming” and I now have proof in the form of actual snow!  I may be late realizing the change in weather (I was running in 60+ degree Thanksgiving weather!) here in Kansas City NOAA’s recent snowfall and depth maps verify that there is actual snow accumulation in Region 7!  Unfortunately the snow hasn’t come to my corner, but I’ll go back north for Christmas hoping they save us some powder!

Curious as ever, I was curious about past snowfalls and spent some time using the U.S. Snow Monitoring Snowfall Maps (http://gis.ncdc.noaa.gov/maps/snowfall.map?view=rsi).  I cobbled together a rough time series and casually looked for any geographic patterns.  (Unfortunately, I did not get a snow index for 1954; my family watched White Christmas this weekend).

US Snow Monitoring

Snow in 2010 was focused on the Northeast with a band from North Dakota south into Alabama;  2002 shows a strong band of snow that moved across the central (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri on into the Northeast) states.  A different snow pattern emerged (although I am moving in reverse order) in 1983 with snow in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest while being absent from the Eastern U.S. (at least during the last week or so of December (24-29).  A swing through the Southern states occurred in 1963.

Looking through the maps series, it really hit me that the bands of snow moved around the country.  I am by no means an expert (Climatologists, speak up!) but I observed the national snow pattern moved around most parts of the continental U.S. giving almost everyone a white winter at some point in the last 100 years!

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Watching the Wind

By Casey J. McLaughlin

Hurricane season is upon us and Isaac has been dumping vast amounts of rain along its path.  In the Midwest we might see the rain aftermath of Hurricanes but as far as I know, we don’t have any regular Hurricane Drills.  We do, however, have Tornado Drills – quick, run to the basement!  When I think of a tornado, I think of wind, wind, and more wind.

hint.fm/wind August 29, 2012

In that vane (pun intended) check out the great visualization work at http://hint.fm/wind/.  The authors created a “personal art project” with surface wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database.  I often reflect on the maps I’ve made and I think they lack a certain artistry that made me love maps in the first place – hello National Geography.  This wind map, to me, is the best of both “big” data and artistic visualization.  The hint.fm web map visualization presents a tremendous amount of data in an incredibly artistic way – AND ITS ZOOMABLE?

hint.frm/wind August 29, 2012

There are many more data visualization and analysis tools available.  They may have more meaningful information but I still love the majesty of the movement.  Just as a side note, NASA has a similar visualization using surface currents.  View the youtube video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CCmTY0PKGDs

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.