These maps of the United States show that rivers runs through just about everything, including areas people typically consider the driest regions of the county, like Southern California.
Software engineer Nelson Minar used data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to make the gorgeous maps below.
Every bit of blue you see is a river, creek, or tributary. As writer Norman Maclean said, “eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
Minar relies on a piece of data called the Strahler number to determine how big the stream should be on each map. Mississippi may have one major river, but has all kinds of smaller streams:
Southern California is not nearly as dry as you might think. There are streams and rivers even in the desert:
Minar put all of the information up on Github for anyone (who knows what they are doing) to play around with and make their own vector maps. There is also plenty of work left to do:
“To be a useful hydrography map, it should have information on river volume, size, seasonality, etc,” Minar told Wired. “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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