Archive for the ‘Great Lakes’ Category

On June 19th and 20th, northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin were hit by large rain storm that caused extensive flooding and property damage. This is the second post in a series where I explore geospatial data and products to visualize precipitation patterns and flooding associated with the storm.

River Levels – Advanced Hydrologic Preduction Service, National Weather Service
AHPS maintains a water tab on the National Weather Service website that includes river observations and forecasts. The image below shows river gage levels for over 5,000 locations across the U.S. for June 27, 2012. You can see the legacy of the Duluth Solstice storm, as well as Tropical Storm Debby in Florida.

The following two images show river observations and the two-day forecast for June 27 covering the area served by the Duluth NWS office. Flood conditions remain on the St. Louis and upper Mississippi Rivers.

This links to the hydrograph for the gage on the St. Louis River at Scanlon, Minnesota. The first hydrograph image below for June 21 shows the rapid increase of over 11 feet in the river level in less than one day. The second image from June 27 shows the slow decline in river level from major to moderate flood stage.

National Water Information System – U.S. Geological Survey
The National Water Information System (NWIS) provides similar stream information as AHPS, but with more ability to explore observations for different time periods. The image below shows a national view of daily streamflow for June 27.

This link provides a custom query to show gage height, discharge, and precipitation for the station on the St. Louis River at Scanlon from June 14 to 27, 2012

Lake Superior Streams Data Viewer – Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota-Duluth
As part of the Lakes Superior Streams project to enhance public understanding of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems, NRRI developed interactive data visualization tools to animate and simplify the presentation of complex, real-time stream data. Sensors were placed in several Duluth trout streams. The Solstice flood destroyed these sensors, with the exception of one at the mouth of the estuary in the Duluth Shipping Canal. This story by Minnesota Public Radio describes what happened to the sensors, while the image of flow in Amity Creek below provides a graphical perspective.

The data viewer for the Duluth Shipping Canal (http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/streams/data/Java/stLoRvr.html) shows water movement into and out of the St. Louis River Estuary. The 7-day plot below is centered on the storm event. The blue background shows water movement from Lake Superior into the estuary, while brown shows water movement out of the estuary and into the lake. Before the storm, the alternating shades of light blue and brown show the “seiche” effect of water movement between the lake and estuary. After the storm, the dark brown pattern shows more consistent high movement of water out of the estuary.


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Discover Channel Canada and the National Geographic Channel recently premiered an hour-long program featuring computer-generated imagery of the landscape that would be exposed if the Great Lakes were drained.  Drawing from a digital elevation model made from bathymetry and topography data, “Drain the Great Lakes” visualizes exposed natural features, including a recently discovered crater, a trans-lake ridge used by prehistoric man, and a waterfall that existed when lake levels were much lower.  The program also explores shipwrecks, the retreat of Niagara Falls and the impact of invasive mussels on the ecosystem of the lakes.  The CGI was created for Mallinson Sadler Productions by the British company 422 South by a team led by digital environmental artist Richard Fraser.  This video of Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinac and shipwrecks including the Edmund Fitzgerald shows about 10% of the CGI footage used in the program and was created with Terragen made by Planetside Software.


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